Meeting review: PWG-BPW joint event – Syngenta Foundation

How female is the world’s food?   –  Wednesday, May 15th

Paul Castle from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture took 26 PWG and BPW women on a journey to India, Peru and Africa. Paul illustrated how the Syngenta Foundation helps improve smallholders’ livelihoods in developing countries. Local Foundation employees share their expertise with rural women and men, enabling them both to raise crop yields and tap into more lucrative markets for their produce.

Paul described how the Foundation has helped Andean farmers cultivate salad vegetables professionally enough to become a supplier for McDonalds. The fast food chain is determined worldwide to source more ingredients locally; this demanding customer can generate important new income for smallholders. In East Africa, meanwhile, mobile technology, including money transfer by phone, makes it possible to provide farmers with affordable insurance against major risks such as bad weather. Shifting the burden of risk encourages smallholders to invest in modern agricultural inputs that raise yield.

Against that background, Paul completed the evening by commentating (with our help!) on a series of photos of women in agriculture. As he put it: “farming is female in many countries, and thrives best when men don’t get in the way”.

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