When we look at pictures of a field, a tractor, or a packing house, we usually see men at work. Men irrigating, men driving, men on forklifts, leaders in charge of day laborers in the fields, managers, and owners. And it may seem that men dominate the labor aspect of agriculture. However, the reality is that without the support of women, without their hard work, without their intuition, without their intelligence and leadership, harvesting the succesess of this industry would not be possible.
Internationally, women are the key component of food production. This is especially true in developing countries, which are generally where the most food challenges exist. According to the United Nations, women represent 40% of the agricultural workforce in the world and 50% in regions such as Africa and Asia.
However, despite their strong presence, they face challenges in terms of land ownership, lower wages, and salaries, as well as less access to benefits and credit. According to FAO, if these challenges were overcome, agricultural production in developing countries would increase by 2.5% to 4%, which would bring about a 12% to 17% reduction in the number of people suffering from malnutrition in the world. IICA speaks of between 100 and 150 million people who could stop suffering from hunger.
In Mexico, according to SADER, 15% of growers in the countryside are women. They also represent 43% of the farm labor force. Being the national disadvantages very similar to those faced globally and that we have mentioned above.
Sinaloa stands out in terms of the importance of women in the productive sector. We have women participating in the harvest, in the packing of vegetables, taking care of children in daycare centers, teaching in schools, and as doctors attending to workers. They are also in charge of day laborers in the fields leading groups of collaborators. They are in the office as accountants and many also have important managerial responsibilities.
We recently spoke with some of them, and they shared their experiences with us.
Marisol Castro Sandoval is the Manager of Innovation and Continuous Improvement at an important tomato exporting company in Sinaloa and believes that in the agricultural sector, women’s contribution goes from direct crop production to bringing food to the home table. Sofia Colio is Head of Continuous Improvement and Safety at another well-known company and comments that today women play a leading role in the agricultural sector because they have demonstrated their ability to overcome the challenges they face daily.
Yadira Soto is also from Sinaloa and is a Social Work Coordinator and emphasizes that today women play different roles in society. They are workers, mothers, independent, and of course great pillars of the economy of our country. Yareli Sarabia is the Food Safety Coordinator at another cucumber grower and exporter and tells us that in the region’s agricultural companies there is increasing participation of women in the industry doing work that men do and where there is equality between them.
Livier Ugalde Armenta works at an export company in Villa Juarez and tells us that being a woman in the agricultural sector has been a great challenge, but at the same time, she is proud to know that her leadership contributes to the development of the community and the country. Griselda Camacho Beltran is the Food Safety Coordinator in Los Mochis and is proud to belong to that third of the world’s population dedicated to agriculture, where working women are recognized for their work in society.
Miriam Prado is a Food Safety and Security Supervisor in a company that has been exporting bell peppers to North America for decades and she tells us that magic is not necessary to change the world, but the involvement of women with their great inner power is necessary to achieve it. Liliana German is a social worker and emphasizes that the participation of women in the sector is decisive and generates pride and admiration to see the dedication and enthusiasm of those who dedicate themselves to this work.
Laura Villa is a Quality and Food Safety Control Supervisor and insists that women no longer play a single role because nowadays they are independent and autonomous. Women play a dual role, first in the home, but no less important in their development and that of the economies of the countries.
It should be noted that in Eleven Rivers Growers 50% of the team are women and collaborate and lead in the areas of administration, communication, and auditing.
Long live women and their great contribution to the agri-food sector!