"Radically Different" Method Empowers Women and Shows Results, says Concern

Women are two-thirds of global agricultural workforce; “exciting and significant” new findings

In announcing the findings of new report to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March 2013, Concern Worldwide today revealed that a “radically different” approach to producing agricultural crops in developing countries has shown impressive results in terms of higher yields, earlier harvests, lower labour demands, and an increase in the empowerment of women.

The study entitled, ‘Empowering Women through Conservation Agriculture’, was conducted by Ireland’s leading development and humanitarian organisation in Malawi and supported by global management consulting and technology company, Accenture, which has offices in Dublin and Belfast.

“These are very exciting and significant results,” said Angela O’Neill De Guilio, Concern’s Regional Director for southern Africa.

“Women make up two-thirds of the global agricultural workforce, yet they are faced with significant inequalities. While there is no single solution to tackling the inequality towards women with regard to land tenure, credit, markets and farmer training, the findings of our study demonstrate that radically different and relatively simple farming methods empower women in agriculture while boosting crop yields”.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that increasing female farmers’ access to productive resources could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 17 per cent.

“We are delighted to see this evidence of the improvement to women’s lives”, she added. “We have also seen knock-on effects such as the increased involvement of women in decision-making, both at household and community level, as well as increasing food security for their families. Conservation Agriculture clearly has a role to play in empowering women. There is a long way to go but tackling inequality head-on will have benefits for everyone”.

Notes for Editors:

About Conservation Agriculture:

Put simply, Conservation Agriculture involves minimal soil disturbance by using simple tools when planting seeds, thus lowering labour demands. The labour demands of women participating in the Concern-Accenture study were reduced by an average of 34 to 35 days.

Conservation Agriculture also encourages farmers to keep the soil covered throughout the year by leaving crop residues or grass mulch on the field, the higher residual moisture from which boosts land resilience to shocks such as poor rainfall. It also involves crop rotation, a farming practice which is often neglected.

You can read more about Concern’s Conservation Agriculture projects at

You can read more about the Concern-Accenture study at:

About Concern Worldwide and Accenture in Conservation Agriculture Concern first began promoting Conservation Agriculture in Zimbabwe in 2004. Similar projects are now being delivered in Zambia and Malawi through the support of an Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Programme, and in Tanzania through the support of the European Commission.
Launched in 2009, Accenture’s ‘Skills to Succeed’ programme is a global corporate citizenship initiative, which seeks to build skills that enable people around the world to participate in and contribute to the economy. The goal is to help 500,000 people around the world build the skills required to get a job or build a business by 2015.

Contact: Paul O’Mahony, Concern: 00353 87 965 3877