Uganda boasts a considerable agricultural workforce, with approximately 3.9 million women contributing to the sector across 7 million agricultural households. However, a significant gender disparity exists, as many of these women are primarily engaged in on-farm production activities, with limited involvement in crucial agribusiness facets such as processing, warehousing, distribution, packaging, branding, and marketing. The resulting cost of this gender gap in agribusiness activities is staggering, estimated at US$67-100 million per year. This disparity averages around 20–30 percent of GDP across Sub-Saharan African countries.
Recognizing the urgent need to bridge this gap, UN Women Uganda took a proactive stance by organizing the Source of the Nile Women in Agribusiness Summit and Expo on January 15th to 16th, 2024. This transformative event aimed to foster partnerships that would elevate the status of women farmers and entrepreneurs. As a part of the 19th Non-Aligned Movement, the summit provided a unique platform for over sixty women entrepreneurs to showcase their diverse products across various agribusiness value chains.
Distinguished guests, including high-level policymakers such as Hon. Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, and Hellen Adoa, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, attended the summit. The collaboration between these ministries, UN Women, and the NAM National Organizing Committee underscored the significance of addressing gender disparities in agribusiness.
During the event’s opening, Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women Uganda Country Representative, emphasized the opportunity for women in agribusiness to pitch their enterprises to key investors. However, she also highlighted the need to address the barriers hindering women’s meaningful engagement in the sector.
The expo provided a unique space for women in agribusiness to engage in investment pitches with private sector investors, local companies, and policymakers. Discussions centered on tackling challenges such as accessing affordable credit, adapting to severe weather conditions, reducing reliance on sunlight for post-harvest protection, countering exploitation by middlemen, and addressing the time and labor burdens associated with manual land cultivation. The focus extended to empowering women to tap into domestic, regional, and international markets.
Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for ESARO, emphasized the transformative potential of the event, stressing the need to document and share success stories to inspire women across Africa. Minister Betty Amongi emphasized the importance of supporting women’s transition from informal to formal sectors by addressing the challenges they face.
Minister Hellen Adoa, responsible for fisheries, highlighted the critical role of women in agriculture and encouraged the adoption of ICT to enhance the sale of agricultural products, further emphasizing the need for innovation and inclusivity in the sector.
The summit, set to become an annual event, aims to foster collaboration among women in agribusiness, investors, and government stakeholders. This strategic gathering seeks to ideate and implement solutions to the myriad challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the sector. In support of this mission, UN Women Country Office has compiled a comprehensive catalogue of Women in Business, serving as a valuable tool for networking and connecting women with potential investors, markets, and business partners.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.