As with everything else, gender roles are very rigid in agriculture. They are not the same globally: in some countries, taking care of livestock is a man’s job; in some it’s a woman’s. In one place, a certain crop is cultivated by predominately women; in another place it’s grown by men. Sometimes, women add value to products through cheesemaking, preservation of crops or fish, brewing beer, etc, and take them to the markets, in other countries this is done by men.Sometimes, these roles vary even between regions within a country. Women and men around the world participate almost equally in agricultural but they do not always have equal access to inputs, resources, services, and knowledge. Which of course prevents them from making the most out of their livelihoods and makes the sector use scarce resources such as water and land in a suboptimal manner. Plus countries are not growing and poverty is not decreasing as fast as they could. Last week, I participated as a discussant in this webinar on gender in agricultural risk management, where we talked about some of these issues and how to reach both men and women to better manage agricultural risks.
Two impressive female farmers in Malawi that are part of a cooperative. They are responsible for the irrigation pump behind them, which completely changed the business for the cooperative as they now can grow seeds and high-value horticulture. The two women asked me to take the photo of them after showing me the pumping mechanism, so I take the liberty of posting the photo here.
I’m back after a week in Zambia, where I together with one of my favorite colleagues from Uganda held a training on agricultural risk management. The impacts of risks such as droughts, floods, pests, and diseases are increasing around the world because of climate change. This, in turn, impacts people’s livelihoods but also food supplies and food prices, and it sometimes cause countries that normally would export surpluses to neighbors to close their borders. This training was about how it’s possible to develop effective ways to measure the impacts of these (and other) risks, and how they can be managed better.
I was only there for a week but the actual training was located about an hour outside of Lusaka, in the middle of a wildlife reserve, so I got to see some of Zambia’s nature. It was beautiful, of course! The last morning, before we left for the airport, we went on a one-hour tour around the park, so I got to see a few new animals that I’ve never seen before. That – and the fact that I thoroughly enjoy holding trainings – made this a very pleasant trip!
As always, there are more pics on my IG @asagiertz
I may have written about this earlier but my business trips are normally quite far from the general perception of business travels. Yes, I do stay in comfy hotels when in capitals – never the in fanciest ones but at least in those where internet is supposed to work. (It often doesn’t, of course!) But my business travels often also include trips into the rural areas with overnight stays at small guesthouses that normally attend to local tourists or backpackers, and most importantly, these trips include meetings with farmers, researchers at branch institutes, and public servants in local offices. In addition, my trips often mean spending hours and hours with colleagues from the country I’m in, a driver, and/or an interpreter, which in turn means ample of time for conversation. So I normally go a lot more “off the beaten track” and talk a lot more with locals when I travel for work than when I am on vacation. Which I think is the opposite of what many people picture when they hear the term business travels. But this time in Johannesburg, my trips was really the typical business trip. I didn’t stay at an airport hotel, but not far from it: at the Radisson Blu Gautrain, which is located just across from the Sandton train station where the airport train stops. And I barely got out of the hotel in the six days that I was there.
I came with a team to hold a training for African policy practitioners on how to conduct agricultural risk assessments (more info here). We had a great group of participants (many of them in countries where we work) and I delivered the training together with my closest colleagues, which was nice for a change as we normally lead our own tasks and work with specialized consultants. So I enjoyed this work tremendously! And the last evening, before the rest of my team headed back to Washington and I on to Malawi, we had dinner at The Butcher Shop and Grill, where I had the best meat ever (aged steak!) So just like last time, my stay in Johannesburg was great – it’s such a pleasant place and people are so nice – and I hope I will get to go back in not too long and also at some point see more of South Africa!
I have to say something more about the food in this post, because it wasn’t just the meat at the restaurant that last evening that was good; I actually don’t think I’ve ever been other than excited about the food I’ve had in Johannesburg. The cuisine reflects South Africa’s mixed culture and everything is freshly made and with good quality ingredients. Portions are in nice (read healthy) sizes, and even at our training event, the snacks in the breaks included lots of fruits, small sandwiches, etc (see pics). Even bar food and café food have been very good, and the breakfasts have been divine at the two hotels where I’ve stayed! And in addition to this fantastic cuisine, there is of course the local wine that goes with! So just the culinary experience makes Johannesburg worth a visit!