Designer crops of the future must be better tailored for women in agriculture
For all the progress that scientists have made in breeding crops that feed more people, these breakthroughs typically elude a core demographic in low-income countries that rely on agriculture: women.
Advances in seed genetics are estimated to be responsible for up to 60 percent of yield increases in farmers’ fields in recent years by making crops hardier and faster-maturing. However, only a third of crops grown by sub-Saharan African farmers in 2010 were the latest varieties of genetically improved plants; the uptake is as low as 5 percent for women-led households in that region. In some cases, modern varieties may be more difficult for women to harvest, process or cook but ultimately, scientists need more research to fully understand the traits that make crops desirable and viable for women as well as men.