Landesa: Taking Land out of the Footnotes

Released at a time when global food security is headlining the news every day, the FAO’s report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011: Women in Agriculture – Closing the Gender Gap for Development, was a breakthrough.

The statistics cited in the summary, highlighting women’s role in agriculture, have had resounding impact in the international development community, and rightfully so:

Closing the gender gap in agricultural resources and services (not including land) could increase yields on women’s land by 20-30%, raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4%, and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million.

Little noted, is that deep in the 160 page report the authors say that providing women equal access to land could make an even greater impact:

“Of course, the potential production gains calculated by this method are based on the existing distribution of land… [C]ountries where women control proportionately more land could achieve the greatest potential gains… Increasing women’s access to land as well as complementary inputs in that case would generate broader socio-economic benefits than those captured in this analysis.”

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