CGIAR Gender News

Empowering women from the farm through the value chain with nutrient-enriched crops

Women with Vitamin A maize in Zambia. Photo: HarvestPlus.

Women play key productive, reproductive, and community roles. In agriculture, they select which crops to farm on their land, grow and harvest these crops, process and cook them, and use them to feed their households. Alongside this, women market their produce, both raw and processed, earning income to meet other household needs.

Yet women are often disadvantaged when it comes to accessing the information, education, resources, and technologies that would enable them to be more productive in all their roles. Once women farmers have equal access to the same knowledge, assets, and resources as their male counterparts, they are equally or more productive. In addition, a substantial body of research shows that income earned by women is more likely to be spent on food and other items that support children’s growth and well-being.

Nutritionally enriched crops, produced through the process of biofortification, offer women ways to improve their productivity and provide more-nutritious diets for themselves and their families. HarvestPlus and its CGIAR research center partners ensure that all biofortified crop varieties contain nutritionally-significant levels of vitamin A, iron, or zinc; in addition, these varieties are bred with agronomic traits to make them competitive with the non-biofortified varieties that they are meant to replace in farmers’ fields: they are climate-smart, high yielding, and drought, disease, and pest tolerant.

Rural women. Photo: HarvestPlus.