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UN, Standard Bank empower farmers

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Sam Mnthambala, Contributor

Access to reliable data and market information is a critical tool in the drive to make Africa’s rural economies more equitable and sustainable.

This was the general view of panellists at a discussion hosted by United Nations (UN) Women and Standard Bank last week.

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Through their Climate Smart Agriculture programme, UN Women and Standard Bank are equipping women farmers in Africa with the skills and resources needed to grow their operations and succeed in a changing climate.

One of the panellists, Graham Chipande, who is also Head of Relationship Banking at Standard Bank Malawi, said information gap makes it difficult for many women farmers to achieve healthy selling prices and access financial services products.

“We have been greatly privileged to learn from farmers groups about the challenges and opportunities that exist in their space,” he said.

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Chipande said, with the African Continental Free-trade Area now operational, opportunities will begin to emerge in the sector, including in agri-processing.

He said by better equipping women farmers to understand consumer patterns, they stand a much better chance of being able to innovate and rise to the demand.

Socio-economic Adviser for East and Southern Africa Region at UN Women, Nidhi Tandon, said as Africa’s farmers are at the frontline of climate change, interventions are needed to help them.

In January 2019, the two institutions partnered with the aim of empowering more than 50,000 women farmers in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa.

In Malawi, close to 6,000 women farmers have received support in the use of high-yield and drought-resistant groundnut seeds.

To ensure the success of the Climate Smart Agriculture initiative, Standard Bank has provided funding worth $3 million as well as ongoing support through financial literacy and other capacity-building programmes.

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