Information and knowledge: a panacea for food security among women in Chipata district: The case of Luangeni
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Women play a critical role in food security. They are the backbone of the world’s agricultural labour force. Nearly half of the food grown all over the world is produced by women. In Zambia, women account for over sixty-five percent of labour in agricultural production. All tasks associated with food production, harvesting, processing, preparation, provision of water and fuel wood, food storage, transport, marketing, hoeing and weeding are largely performed by women. Taking into account all of women’s agricultural work, one can arguably claim that women’s contribution to food production increases spectacularly and generally surpasses men’s contribution. Yet women in general experience greater difficulty than men in securing essential resources and basic resources such as health, nutritional services, education, physical and financial capital and land. Above all, women lack information and knowledge which is critical to enhance their contributions in food security. In addition, they remain the silent majority with limited access to economic decision making bodies that impact on their lives and the lives of their families. Given the opportunity, women’s contributions to ensuring food security could increase substantially. Given increasing food insecurity especially in rural areas of Zambia, it was imperative to investigate whether women in Luangeni, Chipata District have information and knowledge on food security issues. The study was both qualitative and quantitative in nature. 135 women farmers participated in the study. The findings are presented and include an assessment of whether women farmers had information and knowledge on land rights and tenure, modern cost effective agricultural equipment, acquisition of agricultural inputs, market and nutritional value of locally produced food. The study further investigated the agricultural information and knowledge needs of women farmers, sources of agricultural information and knowledge of women farmers and the challenges faced to access agricultural information and knowledge.