Female Farmers Forging International Ties

Female farmers across the United States are creating international ties, serving as agricultural ambassadors and spreading valuable advice and farming practices. With women making up a larger part of agricultural populations across the globe, this sort of advocacy is hardly unexpected. What is unexpected, although reassuring, is the reach of these global farm ties, with some networks reaching as far as war torn Afghanistan.

On the surface, Afghanistan seems an unlikely place to attract female farm reformers. Until the 2001 U.S. invasion, the country was ruled by the theocratic Taliban regime, who severely curtailed the rights of women (who could not appear in public without male relatives, could not attend school, and were required to cover themselves from head to toe when out in public). Even after the fall of the Taliban, many parts of the country remained reluctant to change. Over the past several years, Taliban supporters have violently attacked women, in some cases throwing acid on women’s faces as they went to school.

Despite these political restrictions, women have and continue to play a major role in Afghan agriculture. “Many times, [women are] just behind the walls of the compound where lots of the farming goes on,” said Denise O’Brien, an agricultural advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Foreign Services. “They contribute incredible amounts to make agriculture viable and receive very little credit and very little income.”

In order to improve ties between the United States and Afghanistan, the USDA has sent agricultural advisors overseas to promote new agricultural techniques and offer much needed financial and technological support.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer