Griselda Mendoza

Small Farmers, Great Contributions

At least once in your life you will need a doctor, a mechanic or a lawyer, but farmers are people you need every day, actually most of us count on them three times a day. Agriculture is where most things start, and food depends on the field to be able to reach our table. My country, Paraguay, is no different: Agriculture is fundamental to the country’s economic engine, making up 18% of the national GDP.

Paraguay concentrates a large part of the 5 million family farmers that inhabit the Southern Cone of the Americas, where 83% of agricultural farms are family farms. Since I was a little girl, I have watched the field and notice that on many of these farms, women are the ones who make the decisions; although historically, their roles have been less known. By definition, family farming is an activity done together by the members of a family, while the crops can be diverse, almost always it is connected with the production of food.

Beginning this year until 2028 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) declared the Decade of Family Farming. This is a huge opportunity to think about this production model that employs more than 30 million people in Paraguay, according to the FAO.

I always liked the countryside, biology and nature. That is why I decided to become an agronomist. When I was in college, in 2002, we were 6 women studying among 60 men.

griselda mendoza
griselda mendoza
Griselda Mendoza
Agronomist and Marketing Lead for Paraguay & Bolivia

Fortunately, that proportion has changed considerably. According to the United Nations, in many parts of the world, 60-80% of the food is produced thanks to the work of women. Rural environments, as well as the composition of the company teams who work in the field, are more diverse, they include men and women from different parts of the world, with different sets of knowledge. For example, someone from the agronomic engineering area can work with someone from IT developing apps, drones and other technologies that are essential to agricultural production and provide can provide crop specific data.

working in field
working in field
In Paraguay, family farming and women in agriculture are strongly connected.

At Bayer, our field team includes women who are making a difference every day; take for example, Sandra Rigo, one of the salespersons. She travels across Paraguay to offer consulting services to clients. A farmer’s daughter, she chose this path some years ago when the field was even more male-dominated. Advancing her career, of course, was not easy but Sandra emphasizes that women often have the ability to thrive even in the face of adversity, and that resilience has made it possible to conquer new frontiers.

In Paraguay, the issue of family farming and the role of women in business are increasingly connected. You cannot move forward if one foot steps moves and the other doesn’t accompany the forward walk too! Bayer and other companies and organizations such as FAO – part of the United Nations focusing on food production – and IICA – the Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Cooperation are helping women be recognized for their talents and the amazing work they do in agriculture.

The World Bank itself notes that women can be agents of change in agriculture, and critical to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those related to ending hunger.

I believe that the interaction between men and women creates a healthier, more diverse, more productive and more humane environment. I always say that my first profession is being a mom. I have 3 children who make me want to make the world a better place and motivate me to work with people who are interested in doing science to make life better. In agriculture, at Bayer, among my colleagues and customers, I have found the way to care for the next generation and have a fulfilling professional life.

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Thriving for Change - Championing Agriculture for a New Generation