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Applauding Red Stripe for backing women farmers

Published:Saturday | December 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Applauding Red Stripe for backing female farmers

Women's Resource and Outreach Centre Ltd

The Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) is extremely pleased at the initiative being taken by Red Stripe to include women in its cassava cultivation project. WROC considers this to be an impactful initiative and a meaningful move in the direction of promoting and generating sustainable livelihoods across Jamaica, in particular for women.

As you may be aware, the most recent Jamaica Survey on the Standard of Living Conditions counts rural women as one of the poorest groups of Jamaicans. Rural women are, for the most part, farmers.

WROC is of the view that improved access to livelihood opportunities, by companies such as Red Stripe, must increasingly take into account a gender-inclusive approach. Jamaica's farming statistics indicate that 30 per cent of farmers are women between the ages of 34 and 54. It is within this context, then, that we would also like to recognise and commend Red Stripe's efforts to engage a strategy that will effectively assist in facilitating opportunities for rural women farmers/producers' access to sustainable livelihoods.

We believe Red Stripe's commitment to recruit a workforce of 40 per cent females for the project is a step forward that is certainly in line with our guiding principle of advancing the economic autonomy of women. This empowers them and their families and benefits their communities.

We would also like to bring to your attention some shocking statistics:

1. Only two per cent of women in Jamaica own land - a critical asset for rural/farm women.

2. Only one per cent of female farmers/producers have access to agricultural credit.

3. Only five per cent of all agricultural extension resources are directed to women.

This information underscores the importance of Red Stripe's initiative.

We endorse Red Stripe's focus and actions as a signal of commitment to developing a more diverse and, therefore, more sustainable workforce.

WROC hopes that Red Stripe will join us in helping to facilitate rural women's access to critical resources such as agricultural credit and well-needed exposure to extension services that brings them into more profitable and productive farming technologies and efficiencies.

We strongly encourage Red Stripe to continue to reflect these perspectives in all of its future endeavours and encourage the company to continue to be an important leader in this regard where the private sector is concerned.