The theme of the 2018 edition was "Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development". Among the many sessions organized on this theme, the OCP Group organized a roundtable to discuss how innovation and sustainable agriculture are key tools for reducing gender inequalities in Africa. Mr. Owona was invited, given his expertise on African agriculture, to take part in this round table. At his side were various experts like Dr. Agnes Atim Apea and Charlotte Libog.
During the session, Mr. Owona focused his speech on the policies to be put in place to promote the inclusion of women in the agricultural sector and in particular in agribusiness. He believes that if Africa creates sufficient economic conditions to enable farmers - including women - to operate as entrepreneurs, Africa will be able to feed not only its people but also the rest of the world.
As a reminder, women represent more than 50% of agricultural workers, and are responsible for about 50% of the work on farms in sub-Saharan Africa. According to various reports, they would even produce between 60 and 80% of the continent's diet.
Despite the work done and the important role women farmers play in the agricultural sector in Africa, they still have fewer rights and fewer opportunities than men. An unfair situation, which is also a drag on the continent's economies.
In Zimbabwe, research has shown that where men tend to prioritize maize as a cash crop, women plant a wider variety of crops and market them. Similarly, the involvement of women in plant breeding in Rwanda and parts of West Africa has improved the diversity and performance of bean varieties. Encouraging women to participate in agriculture as entrepreneurs, thus stimulates the agricultural economy as a whole.
At the round table organized by the OCP group, Mr. Owona Kono came back on three key elements, to advance this transformation: land, education and finance.
Banon has been operating in the banana sector for many years and lastly cited several examples of initiatives taken to ensure the empowerment of women in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire: training, capacity-building, implementation childcare facilities, working time management for pregnant and lactating workers, competitive salaries, equal promotion opportunities and salaries.