Narrowing the gender gap in digital agricultural platforms

Women are highly engaged in agriculture and rural economies, as labourers, consumers, and producers, both for markets and their households. According to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), an estimated 79% of economically active women in developing countries report agriculture as their primary activity. However, there are gaps in women’s productivity due to: a lack of land ownership, lower access to quality inputs, credit, and training, less access to paid and unpaid family labour, smaller land sizes for cultivation, and restrictive norms e.g., focusing women on low-value crops. In many value chains, women provide most of the labour, but payment for outputs goes directly to men. This discourages women from supporting productivity growth and limits their economic potential.

Digital agricultural platforms can boost farmer productivity but also risk entrenching gender inequalities if not gender intentional. Research shows that only 25% of Sub-Saharan Africa digital agricultural platform users are women and are not served sufficiently. To focus the FSD Uganda-supported digital platform partners on being gender-intentional in their business models, FSD Uganda held a “Gender in Agricultural Platforms” co-creation workshop with Emata Uganda Ltd, Ensibuuko Tech Ltd and Quest Digital Finance Ltd.

Gender co-creation activity

The engagement raised awareness of the gender issues in agricultural value chains. It also allowed each of the partners to reflect on how these issues manifest in the customer journey starting from acquisition, credit scoring/financing, impact, retention, and advocacy.

The key takeaway from the gender co-creation workshop was a curated list of best practices that these platforms can adopt to create shared value for the platforms and the women that engage with them. For gender intentionally, the partners were tasked to prioritise the best practices for adoption, indicating how to implement them and the relevant support that may be required. This is an activity all stakeholders in the digital agricultural platforms space can partake in to bridge the gender gap in the platforms.

A word from the participants

This is what participants had to say about how gender gaps in digital agricultural platforms can be reduced.

“One-way platforms can be more intentional about reaching women is through the financing mechanisms like the payment mechanism for the sale of agricultural products – these could use different acquisition strategies to reach female farmers including focusing on female-focused value chains. We can also consider women-based agent network models and others that might be more effective at impacting women not just reaching many women,” Julie Zollman, FSD Network Gender Collaborative Programme.

“We need to focus on business activities that women are actively involved in for better inclusion such as catering services, poultry and identify how we can help them diversify on digital platforms. We can also skill them up to make their businesses profitable,” Winnie Namubiru, Quest Digital Finance Ltd.

“Gender is a very important aspect of our business because it promotes specificity right from the organisation level through how we offer services. It is important to us given that our clientele are rural poor in saving groups with 80% of members being female. So, my key takeaway is to identify gender gaps in the value chains and be able to offer appropriate value chain financing products that will most influence specificity from all angles,” Roger Nyakahuma, Ensibuuko Tech Ltd

“We want dairy farmers to dream big and we cannot achieve this dream without involving both females and males. This is key for maximum impact on the farmers’ lives. Going forward, we need to combine both tech-based solutions with on-ground field support to enable us to bridge the gender gap and encourage more women to understand how to use financial services and embrace technology,” Lillian Nassanga, Emata Uganda

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