Supporting the Coffee Farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congoby Senator Debbie Stabenow
Posted on 2015-12-03
STABENOW. I thank the senior Senator from Vermont for his
leadership on this issue. Last year, I had the privilege of leading the
first all-women Senate delegation to sub-Saharan Africa to examine
food, agriculture, and the critical role women play in local economies.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, nearly 50 percent of all the agricultural work in the region
is done by women.
Yet, too often, women are not afforded equal opportunities to own property, earn an education, or participate in the political process. That is why I was eager to lead two bipartisan provisions included in the recent AGOA renewal. The first makes clear that we expect our African trading partners to make progress toward establishing policies that support men and women. And the second expands existing agricultural trade technical assistance programs at USDA and USAID and prioritizes outreach to organizations and sectors that support women.
At its core, AGOA is about creating the building blocks of an improved trading relationship with sub-Saharan African nations. For the Democratic Republic of the Congo, coffee production presents a critical export opportunity. That is why we must insist that the Congolese Government addresses its inconsistent and burdensome export taxes on coffee producers--most of whom are women--before regaining eligibility for AGOA benefits. We have an opportunity to send a strong message to our African trading partners that we expect them to recognize how vital women are to the development of those nations' economies.