The roles that women play in agriculture vary from region to region and country to country. Men and women often have complementary roles, sharing or dividing tasks in crop production, livestock raising, fishing and in care and use of the forests. In other cases, women and men have distinctly different tasks and responsibilities for certain crops and livestock, fish and forests.
Where large-scale cash cropping has been introduced, the tendency remains for men to become involved in this sector, especially when it is highly mechanized, with women becoming increasingly responsible for household food production and small-scale cash cropping with low levels of technology. Women also supply a significant proportion of the agricultural labour on plantations.
While there are significant variations by country, overall women in Africa play a major part in sowing, weeding, application of fertilizers and pesticides, harvesting, threshing, food processing, transportation and marketing. Men are mainly responsible for clearing and preparation of the fields and ploughing and participate to a greater or lesser degree in the other agricultural tasks along with women.
Likewise, women in some countries, such as Tanzania, participate fairly equally with men in site clearance and land preparation. In many countries, men are responsible for the large livestock and women for the smaller animals, such as poultry, sheep and goats.
Vegetable solar dryer
Women are also often responsible for feeding and milking all livestock. In fishing, men are generally responsible for off-shore fishing while women are responsible for on-shore tasks such as net making and repair, fish processing and fishing in rivers. In forestry, women are often responsible for seedlings and almost always for gathering food, fodder and fuelwood. In some countries, as in Sudan, men and women have responsibility for different types of trees.
Despite the male dominancy, women produce more than 50% of the food grown worldwide, according to FAO estimates, Poultry, and Horticulture being their top post prowess. A vegetable solar dryer is among products developed by female farmers targeting smallholder farmers who have challenges in accessing market places resulting in them incurring losses over their perishable goods.
The solar drier, invented at Esigodini Agric College, has been designed to preserve nutrients and colour of produce. The vegetables are dried and preserved, offering protection from flies, pests and diseases, rain, dust etc. The drier is additionally both environmental and user friendly as no technical know-how is required to use it.