The agribusiness sectors in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Lucia will now be better equipped to respond to the needs of women and youth, small holder farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs in the sector.
This is thanks to the provision of computer tablets under the “Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in the Caribbean Countries: The Imperative of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthened Agriculture (and related Agri/Fisheries Small Business) Sector” Programme, funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS), which is being implemented by the UN participating organizations of UN Women, UNDP, FAO and ILO.
Through this initiative, the UN Women Multi-Country Office-Caribbean will lead on facilitating the development of a digital Help Desk resource to increase access to accurate information and resources for women and youth small holder farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs, among others. This virtual space will serve as a repository of relevant, locally specific information, pertinent to business development, growth, and sustainability within this sector. The use of this technological resource will provide a valuable tool for Agriculture Extension Officers and Business Coaches as they work to strengthen the engagement and progress of agriculture practitioners, in “real time” where they work and operate their businesses.
During the recent handover, which was held to commemorate International Day of Rural Women, there was a central theme by the partners in attendance as they acknowledged the crucial role of rural women for the sustainability of local food systems, while addressing the gender inequalities that slowed the progress of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UN Women Multi-Country Office- Caribbean Representative, Tonni Brodber in delivering remarks noted: “While agriculture is critical to us as individuals, and society’s functioning as whole, we recognize that in the Caribbean, the agricultural sector is extremely vulnerable to disaster and climate change risk impact and is a sector where gender inequality is possibly most entrenched. We also acknowledge that rural women’s participation in agriculture is a substantial contributor to our economy, that is especially overlooked, marginalized, and underestimated.”
Brodber further remarked, that for the Caribbean to achieve food security, the vulnerabilities that affected women small business owners had to be prioritised, through the development of and strengthening of business processes in the agricultural sector and increased access to financing.
“Our research shows that rural women in agriculture lack adequate access to the tools and resources to build their capacity in areas such as land and small business registration. Rural women generally have less access to financing to expand and formalize their agricultural businesses, which increases their social and economic vulnerability, which in turn poses a challenge to their ability to thrive and provide for themselves and their families- ultimately their human security,” Brodber added.
Representing the Government of Japan, as a donor to the UNTFHS, Japanese Ambassador to Barbados, Her Excellency Kayoko Fukushima during her remarks noted that this UN Women led initiative aligned, not only with the Sustainable Development Goals but the Government of Japan’s revised agricultural policy.
Her Excellency Kayoko Fukushima said: “In 2020, the Japanese Government implemented a revised agricultural policy, a Basic Plan for Food Agriculture and Rural Areas to pass Japan’s agricultural management to the next generation. The policy includes issues on securing sustainable and cultural development in rural areas and preventative actions against natural disasters. In this context, we recognise that a competency-based and integrated approach is required for the agriculture policy for agriculture, fisheries production, food manufacturing, general waste management and food distribution and market for securing income by utilising local resources. As an island nation, Japan shares comparable issues on food security and it is against this background, we will continue to work together to revitalise rural areas and rural agribusiness development by engaging women as a key player.”
This UN Trust Fund for Human Security funded programme is being implemented under the framework of the Resident Coordinator’s Office Barbados and OECS by UN Women, FAO, ILO and UNDP in the beneficiary countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia. (PR)