DAWN of women in agriculture: Technology as an enabler

Dawn of women in agriculture

As part of the Food Systems Summit Dialogue, the Future Food Institute and Mooofarm organized a virtual event on July 2nd about the role of women in farming and agriculture around the globe. GIIF attended to this event as Mooofarm is one of the winners of the July 2019 GIIF agriculture insuretech challenge, organized in India. Main speakers include participants from Future Food Institute, UN Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement, Devices Reliance Jio Infocomm, UNIDO ITPO Italy, Food Tank, and representation of the Government of Maharashtra. In this blog, you will read a summary of main points mentioned at the event and a link to the presentations for more information. The discussion in the event highlighted that approximately 70-90% of the work in the livestock sector is done by women, but they are not fully participating nor taking advantage of the benefits that technology could bring to them and to the field.

In India, there are 80+ million small scale dairy producers, the majority of the work made by women. Mooofarm at this point has over 1 million dairy farmers who have accessed and downloaded their services, but according to its Founder & CEO only less than 2% of this number is represented by women farmers.

Initiatives like this are a good opportunity to collaborative brainstorm, work together, and discuss constructive ideas that could help make a progress in this very important agenda, and to raise the question about how women’s access to technology could be enabled, especially in rural areas, and work together on finding gender balance in the industry.

“Apparently, agriculture looks like a male dominated domain, whereas if we look into the desegrated data we will find that 80% of worldwide farm operations are being done by women. But which are those operations? Mostly, manual labor which includes activities such as: rice transplantation, winnowing, and harvesting. Wherever it is non-mechanized operations those are entrusted to women; while on the contrary, all of those which require power, control of technology, and mechanization are all operated by men (e.g., the use of tractors, harvesters, and many of the agriculture implements).” 

-Shri Anoop Kumar (IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy, & Fisheries and Agricultural Marketing, Government of Maharashtra)

The figures indicate that labor force participation of women is 46% worldwide, and in India it is 60%. However, not even 2% of agriculture credit is extended to women. Technology services are most accessed by men, and women are often denied access to the same resources as their male counterparts; including land ownership, financial resources, education, and technology connectivity. "The same is true in agricultural science and technology, in sub-Saharan Africa for example, only 1 in 4 agricultural researches is female, less than one-fourth of executives in the food industry are women, and fewer are women of color."

-Danielle Nierenberg (President Food Tank)

Capacity building has to be done especially in a male dominated society. Women are a very critical participant in the agriculture value chain and technology is the big hope to bridging the gap between male and female entrepreneurs. This conversation highlighted the need of changing the way policies are framed, not only to increase female farm returns, but also to boost agricultural production in developing countries.

Despite the challenges women face across the food system they are creating enormous success. Women are disrupting the food system with technology around the globe, and they are having success on both the large and small scale including artificial intelligence, drone technologies, water and soil sensor technology, advances in data analysis, weather tracking, marketing, and research, becoming an inspiration for their communities.


Param Singh (Founder & CEO at Mooofarm)

Keynote Speakers:

Sara Roversi (President Future Food Institute)

Gerda Verburg (UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the UN Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement)

Sunil Dutt (President Devices Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.)

Diana Battaggia (Director UNIDO ITPO Italy)

Shri Anoop Kumar (IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy, & Fisheries and Agricultural Marketing, Government of Maharashtra)

Danielle Nierenberg (President Food Tank)