Women in Agribusiness Value Chains

Select a Region Sub navigation page selecting option, jump to that section

Women are crucial stakeholders in agribusiness value chains around the world. Comprising 40 percent of the global agricultural workforce—and as much as 50 percent in many regions—women are essential to planting, cultivating, and harvesting, as well as processing, logistics, and sales.

The Challenge

Despite their contributions, women face unique challenges that hamper their productivity and growth, in turn weakening rural economies, the businesses that depend on them, and the global food chain. Some of these challenges include:

  • Limited or no access to farmland.
  • Fewer opportunities for education and access to agricultural training and extension services relative to men.
  • Limited access and know-how regarding agricultural inputs and mechanical equipment.
  • Limited to no access to credit and other financial services.
  • Significantly lower wages for the same work as men.
  • Greater workloads that include the household responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, and caring for children, elders, and the home. 

Giving women the appropriate knowledge and access to farming resources has the potential to generate business benefits throughout the value chain.

Addressing the Gender Gap

IFC's Women in Agribusiness Value Chains program works to help clients around the world close gender gaps and reap the benefits of gender inclusion in their value chain.

In just one example, increasing women farmers’ access to training and credit can enable them to buy and use agricultural inputs, dramatically increasing their productivity and yields. For businesses, this leads to a strengthened supply of produce.


Our Process

The IFC Women in Agribusiness Value Chain program assesses client value chains using a suite of qualitative and quantitative tools. We use those tools to explore gender gaps and performance constraints within the agribusiness value chain.

Using our five modules, we help clients map the ecosystem within which value chain actors live & work, and understand the socio-economic conditions underlying existing gender dynamics.

This analysis is used to design and implement comprehensive, gender-smart solutions that help clients reap the business benefits of eliminating gender gaps and empowering women in their value chains.

Division of Labor

The roles of women and men farmers in crop production value chains and domestic activities.

Ownership, Access, and Control of Resources

The dynamics of access to and control over resources used in the value chains and in households.

24 Hour Time Study

The amount of time women and men spend on farming and domestic activities respectively.

Perception of Usefulness of VC Actors

How women and men perceive the usefulness (in terms of accessibility and benefits) of value chain actors who provide products and services to them.

Gender Membership and Leadership in Organizations

The level of membership and participation of women and men in farmer organizations.

Women Farmers in Niger Embrace Drip Irrigation and Become Smallholder Producers New

Nigerien farmers manage to cultivate the land and grow crops amidst challenging conditions. On one side, two-thirds of the country are desert and agriculture is rain-fed. On the other, the rainy season is short and irregular, while the dry season is long and hot.

Video Story:

IFC is working with Ecom, a global leader in commodity trading, to raise the productivity of smallholder farms, improve the quality of their coffee, and have a positive impact on the livelihoods of farmers in Kenya. More specifically, IFC is working with Ecom to develop new farmer training tools and methods, adopt more sustainable farming practices, and meet international standards for quality. IFC has partnered with Ecom since 2006, providing both investment and advisory services. The IFC program in Kenya was launched in 2011.