Female farmers are being targeted by a USAID-PepsiCo partnership to show how empowering women in the potato supply chain improves business performance and results in increased revenue for both agricultural families and firms like PepsiCo. To boost female farmers' agency and productivity, the initiative combines land literacy training, land leasing support, and agronomic training.
The partnership's land literacy training in land formalisation and policy in India, implemented by the USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) programme, provides PepsiCo's female farmers with understanding of their rights as landowners and choices for leasing land.
In addition, USAID and PepsiCo are assisting women's self-help groups in leasing land to cultivate potatoes on their own. Women's land leasing organisations sponsored by the collaboration have joined the commercial potato value chain as PepsiCo suppliers during the last two years, producing at levels comparable to male farmers. For economic reasons, women choose to lease property and farm as a group since it reduces risk and allows them to pool resources and expertise. Group farming is appealing for social reasons as well, as it gives women a collective voice in gaining landlords' trust and negotiating lease terms. Working in a group also aids women in gaining support from family and the community, as well as providing physical safety in the fields.
In the same way that training alone may have limited influence in locations where women do not have access to land, land alone does not always equal empowerment for female farmers. To help them make the most of their land ownership or lease, USAID and PepsiCo are providing technical training on sustainable farming practises and potato agronomy, delivered by female agronomists, on topics such as land preparation, planting, safe agrochemical use, harvesting, sorting, and grading, and record keeping. So far, approximately 1,200 female farmers have benefited from the initiative, many of them are receiving this type of training and support for the first time.
Women have been allowed to formally enter and strengthen their roles in the potato supply chain by leasing land and upgrading their farming skills. Greater access to productive resources such as land and information has enhanced women's individual and collective agency, confidence, mobility, income, decision-making authority, and recognition as farmers among family and community members over the last two years.
As a result, PepsiCo's farming supply base is expanding, potato productivity is improving, and sustainable farming practises are being promoted, all of which contribute to USAID and PepsiCo's climate change commitments, demonstrating that women's empowerment makes social, economic, and environmental sense.