You are here: Home > Where we work > Tanzania > Empowering women through sunflowers

Empowering women through sunflowers

The problem

Tanzania is well positioned to grow its oilseed sector due to the growing demand for sunflower oil, but many women are currently excluded from participating in and benefitting from the sector, being held back by poor production practices, and lack of access to markets and cooperatives.

Agricultural marketing cooperatives (AMCOs) enable farmers to pool resources and collectively undertake processing, packaging, distribution and marketing of agricultural products to buyers. Yet, although women make up 68% of Tanzania’s sunflower sector, they only represent 17% of members in AMCOs.

What we are doing

Together, Farm Africa and UN Women are working to close the gender gap in the sector. UN Women have teamed up with local officials to ensure AMCOs in Tanzania’s Ikungi district are increasing their female membership. Supporting this work, Farm Africa is helping female members in three of the AMCOs to boost their productivity and meet the growing demand for sunflower oil.

Building on the experience of Flourishing Futures, a project that supported 10,000 farmers to establish sunflower businesses, Farm Africa is providing training and access to resources to increase the production and sale of sunflower seeds and oil, and reduce post-harvest losses. We are doing this by:

  • Training female farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), including conservation and post-harvest handling, Quality Declared Seed (QDS) production and climate-smart agriculture to boost yields and increase the quality of sunflowers
  • Linking cooperatives with reliable suppliers to give women access to improved seeds, organic fertilisers and pesticides
  • Strengthening links between farmers and buyers, opening up markets to ensure that smallholder farmers are able to sell their crops for the best price
  • Supporting the construction of  a sunflower warehouse in the Mnang’ana village in the Ikungi district so that cooperative members can safely store and market their produce

Why sunflower?

In northern and central Tanzania, climate change is making weather patterns increasingly unpredictable, limiting smallholders’ ability to plan for the future. Sunflower is the ideal crop for economically-vulnerable farmers living in challenging and changing climates.

The hybrid variety of sunflower seed Farm Africa promotes can tolerate droughts and erratic weather conditions.

Small-scale farmers often lack the financial means to start growing new crops. The upfront and ongoing costs of sunflower production are low, whilst demand and return on investment are high, making the crop a low-risk investment for farmers.

Who are we working with?

This project is part of the UN Women’s Realising gender through empowering women and adolescent girls programme.