How the U.S. increases food security by helping female farmers

In a world where almost half of farmers are women, an empowered female population means more prosperous global agriculture.

Since 2010, the Feed the Future initiative has brought together private sector and U.S. government organizations to tackle world hunger and poverty. Today, 8.2 million more women are living in households that are no longer hungry since the U.S. launched the Feed the Future program.

Here’s a snapshot of three countries around the globe that have seen increased food security, entrepreneurship opportunities and nutritional education for women in the past nine years.


Woman planting coffee seedlings in a field (© Moises Castillo/AP Images)
A woman transplants rust-resistant coffee seedlings into bags in Fraijanes, Guatemala. (© Moises Castillo/AP Images)

Safety and security for Guatemalans is a priority for the U.S. government, which includes helping the country boost its economy through agriculture. Feed the Future works closely with rural Guatemalan coffee farmers to renovate coffee farms and combat coffee rust disease. A new project, Guatemala Coffee Value Chain, will train and assist approximately 20,000 smallholder farmers with technological tools that help increase crop yields and improve soil and water management. This way, female farmers — who are often involved in the post-harvest coffee production process — can build prosperous lives in their own country.


4 kids surrounding a large bowl of small fish (Aquaculture Project)
In southern Bangladesh, the Feed the Future Aquaculture Project promotes both production of fish to increase incomes and improve nutrition. (Aquaculture Project)

The United States Agency for International Development has helped approximately 80,000 Bangladeshi farmers — the majority of whom are women — turn to raising fish in addition to crops such as vegetables. Overall fish production has increased by 25 percent, a number that promises to keep growing as farmers learn about caring for fish ponds. The result? A more economically secure community, as women are able to provide for their families.


Woman using a hose to water crops (John Healey/Fintrac Inc.)
In Nepal, access to a steady water supply dramatically improves farmers’ productivity and provides vegetables for families to feed their children. (John Healey/Fintrac Inc.)

Food security also includes proper nutrition and access to a reliable water supply. In Nepal, where over one-third of children under age 5 are malnourished, USAID has worked at the community level to educate women about better health practices with young children, including encouraging breastfeeding. In communities assisted by USAID, the rate of exclusively breastfeeding infants under the age of 6 months has risen to 71 percent from 45 percent over the course of five years.