University of Florida among those receiving $7 million to empower women farmers

Published: November 20 2014


The University of Florida is part of a consortium led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) that has been awarded $7 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase global food security and support effective rural development. The focus of the project is to empower women to increase agricultural productivity, thereby contributing to higher household incomes and improved nutrition.

The new project, “Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services,” (INGENAES) aims to strengthen gender and nutrition integration within and through agricultural extension and advisory services and ultimately reduce poverty, improve food security and reduce malnutrition.

“This is an action-oriented program. We will work in select ‘Feed the Future’ countries to help them improve women-farmers’ access to extension services and trainings. Specifically, we will work with country stakeholders to facilitate women’s access to critical production inputs and help extension services to design and disseminate nutrition programs to both men and women,” said Sandra Russo, UF/INGENAES principal investigator and director of Program Development unit at the UF International Center (UFIC).

The INGENAES team will be working in at least eight countries that will be selected over the next couple of months. The team consists of UF, UIUC, University of California, Davis and a D.C.-based consultancy firm, Cultural Practice LLC. UF work will be implemented collaboratively by UFIC and UF/IFAS Global.

Kathleen Colverson, associate director of UF/IFAS Global, has been working with the MEAS project since its inception. She explains, “Appropriate technologies and inputs for women farmers differ tremendously by country and context, but it is most important to consider the multiple roles that women hold. They are wives, mothers, food producers, cooks, and more, so it is critical that when you introduce a new technology you are not adding another responsibility to women’s already overburdened lifestyles. Women and children are generally responsible for repetitive household tasks (such as gathering firewood and carrying water), often without mechanization and electricity, so the question is how can we introduce innovations that will reduce their burden and not add a different burden, such as providing equipment that is too big, heavy, or dangerous.”

For more information, please contact Sandra Russo at 352-273-1533 or