Seeds of change: The Regional College of Women of ROPPA plants the seeds of agricultural future in Tunis
In the orchards of innovation and on the fertile grounds of mutual support, the Regional College of Women of ROPPA (RCW) has left its mark on the PAFO Rural Women’s Forum in Tunis from 23 to 24 October 2023. This gathering, which brought together rural women from all five regions of Africa, was a crucible of enriching exchanges and mutual strengthening. Mrs. Halima TIOUSSO, president of the College, eloquently shared the experience of this influential organization, which since 2003, has worked for a stronger representation of women in West African peasant movements and their economic and political empowerment.
At the heart of the discussions, the crucial importance of women in agricultural value chains was highlighted. West African women invest in all segments of these chains, from production to processing and marketing of agricultural products, ensuring healthy and diverse food for households and supplying local markets while sustainably managing natural resources. They account for 80% of employment in the agri-food processing sector and 70% in agricultural marketing, playing an indispensable role in local commerce, especially in cross-border regions.
The forum brought to light the multiple challenges these women face, notably civil insecurity which displaces populations and affects access to production factors, as well as climate changes that impact the resilience of rural women. Post-harvest losses, difficulties related to the effectiveness of agricultural policies, and the appropriation of agricultural lands were also discussed as major issues for the advancement of women’s activities in value chains.
To address these challenges, the Regional College of Women of ROPPA presented its strategies to strengthen the role of women in agricultural value chains. They have undertaken concrete actions such as securing access to land resources, supporting more than 500 vulnerable women through the distribution of seeds and inputs, establishing irrigated market garden perimeters, and enhancing the capabilities of women’s cooperatives in quality production, online marketing, and delivery of agricultural and agri-food products.
Emphasis was placed on the crucial role of peasant agroecology as a viable and sustainable response to strengthen the resilience of agroecosystems and mitigate the effects of climate change. The Regional College of Women of ROPPA remains convinced that promoting local products and valuing the culinary diversity in the West African region are essential for an increasing regional food sovereignty.
Communication and Knowledge Management Officer