Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

Interview with Latino in Agriculture Leader Karyssa Zavala, Student

Karyssa Zavala, agricultural student

“I intend to promote U.S. agricultural interests overseas, especially regarding market development and trade policies.”

AH: What is your specific area of study in agriculture?

KZ: My specific area of interest in international agricultural development involves the human rights of smallholder farmers; particularly women. Nearly 80 percent of smallholder farmers worldwide are women, of whom produce 90 percent of food in Africa and half of all food worldwide. However, the disproportionate trend that exists today involves women experiencing limited access to land, credit, inputs, agricultural training and information compared to their male counterparts. Empowering and investing in women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, protect the environment, reduce hunger and malnutrition, and improve livelihoods. Moreover, women are statistically more likely to invest in their families’ and communities’ health, further enhancing the quality of life for an increasing global population. As a result, my interest in addressing the need for increased access and authority for women smallholder farmers serves relevant to resolving existing inadequacies regarding global nutrition and economic development.

AH: What are your long-term professional goals in agriculture?

KZ: My long-term professional goal is to serve as a Foreign Service Officer for the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I intend to promote U.S. agricultural interests overseas, especially regarding market development and trade policies. I believe my degree program will enable me to provide applicable policy recommendations and effectively communicate within the Agency and across the public and private sector. In particular, this interdisciplinary curriculum will challenge my skills in agricultural policy analysis and serve as guidance for real world experience. As a Foreign Service Officer, I intend to address gender issues associated with sustainable, economic growth for both the U.S. and global agricultural sectors. Furthermore, I anticipate speaking with key government officials to evaluate and formulate policies increasing access to income and employment for women smallholder farmers in developing nations.

Click here to read the full interview with Karyssa Zavala on About Harvest.