Women's economic empowerment critical for safeguarding food security

Date: Monday, March 21, 2016

Lusiana Bulu (Secretary of the Ba Market Vendors Association) with Rakesh Prakash and his brother Sanesh Kumar on their farm just outside of Ba. Flooding destroyed much of the crops, leaving them with bare twigs and rotten eggplants. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd
Lusiana Bulu (Secretary of the Ba Market Vendors Association) with Rakesh Prakash and his brother Sanesh Kumar on their farm just outside of Ba. Flooding destroyed much of the crops, leaving them with bare twigs and rotten eggplants. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd

Before the cyclone, Rakesh Prakash and his family relied on the income they received from the produce they harvested on their 10-acre farm in Toge, Fiji. Twice a week they would harvest 300-400kg of eggplant, chillies, cow peas and spinach and take it to the local market to sell to market vendors, who would then on-sell it to the public.

While Mr. Prakash, his wife and parents hid under their bed, flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston destroyed the majority of those crops. The loss has undermined not only his own family’s livelihood, but also that of the 15-20 market vendors and countless customers who relied on his produce each day.

Preliminary assessments carried out by the Government indicate show around $120.2 million of damage to the agricultural sector, the majority of which is damage to crops. Up to 100 per cent of crops in the most affected areas have been damaged. The ripple effects are reaching the entire length of the country’s food supply chain, and beyond.

Women play an essential part in every part of Fiji’s food supply chain. They are usually responsible for sourcing the food their families need to survive, they are heavily involved in subsistence farming, and they make up the majority of market vendors around the country.

To read the full story visit UN Women's regional website for the Asia and the Pacific: http://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2016/03/womens-economic-empowerment-critical