In every country where Women for Women International works, the food crisis is a life or death reality for the women we serve. For instance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has said that at least 18 million of Afghanistan's estimated 26.6 million people, mostly women and children, cannot meet their daily food and nutritional requirements.
At the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, which brought together world leaders and NGOs to discuss practical solutions to development problems, Secretary of State Clinton addressed the dire circumstances of food security worldwide. She said she plans to focus agriculture development efforts increasingly on investing in women farmers and women-run agribusinesses.
Women work to produce 60-80% of the world's crops, but they only own 1% of all the land (UN). This inequity means that women do the vast majority of the work, but get the least amount of credit. The issue of food insecurity has become even more urgent as a result of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which, according to FAO, forced another 100 million people into extreme poverty. As a result, there are now over 1 billion people suffering from hunger around the world, or nearly a sixth of the human population.
Through our experience and research, it has become clear that agribusiness holds great potential for many of our women; it provides a model to simultaneously address income generation and food security, two critical issues for socially excluded women and their families. To help us develop and implement agribusiness opportunities, Agribusiness Specialist Dr. Grace F. Fisiy brings 20 years of agricultural and rural development experience to Women for Women International.
During her first few months with us, Grace traveled to Rwanda to launch our first ever Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative (CIFI), a program designed to provide specialized, sustainable agribusiness opportunities to program participants.
CIFI will provide 3,000 women over the course of three years with training in how to use sustainable farming practices to grow crops that can both be sold for profit in the local market and feed their families. So far we have been able to secure funding to pilot CIFI in both Rwanda and Sudan. Based on the success of those pilots, we have launched a third program in Afghanistan.