Interview with Daniela Ropolo, EMEA Sustainable Initiatives Manager CNH Industrial
Earlier this year, New Holland published a video focussing on female farmers in Italy and how they are part of the changing face of agriculture in the country. We asked Daniela Ropolo, CNH Industrial’s EMEA Sustainable Initiatives Manager, the how and why behind this project.
The role of women in agriculture is changing. How does CNH Industrial/New Holland Agriculture respond to this?
The number of women in farming has been slowly increasing in recent years. Recent data suggests that on average 29% of farms across Europe are managed by a woman. Europe’s farming sector is dominated by an older population. When it comes to female farmers, current data shows that just 4.2% of female farmers are under the age of 35. The EU is committed to improving this situation by supporting female entrepreneurship, women’s participation in decision making and the provision of adequate services in rural areas. New Holland and the other agricultural CNH Industrial brands are actively observing this change. We are studying the characteristics of this new potential customer and how we can satisfy their needs. We have to consider in addition that today, more than ever, we are living in a world that is constantly changing. The urgency is to act and to reply to global calls to action, transforming sustainable commitment into measurable and above all lasting results. CNH Industrial has always been committed to addressing new targets and phenomena such as the increasing number of women in agriculture. It is not by chance that in Italy, CNH Industrial is collaborating with Valore D, an association of over 200 enterprises promoting gender balance and the culture of inclusion in the workplace. CNH Industrial is committing to create an inclusive and diverse workplace. We are starting to see a greater presence of women in senior leadership roles serving on boards. Furthermore, CNH Industrial encourages women to take advantage of the many opportunities that agriculture offers.
What initiatives has CNH Industrial/New Holland taken to bridge the gap between genders on the workfloor?
We said earlier that the agricultural sector is changing quickly. New opportunities are presenting themselves every day and we have to observe these new phenomena. We need enthusiastic and talented people across the board who can help our company meet its full potential. Considering women have always been vital contributors to family farms, they are obviously taking the lead. Traditionally, women bring passion and fresh perspectives to their roles. This can actually help move our industry forward. In addition to promoting gender diversity, several workshops have been held on women’s leadership, self-awareness, networking, and personal empowerment. For instance, childcare is an area where managing cost and time is crucial. To help its employees, the company provides assistance through a number of channels including discounts at local day-care centres, direct subsidies, and flexible use of benefit funds for childcare expenses. The equal opportunities that CNH Industrial offers in terms of maternity, paternity and adoption leave are evidence of this commitment to encouraging both female and male employees to balance parental responsibility with their career.
New Holland made a short video showing their support for Italian women in agriculture. What moved you to produce this video?
First of all, this video was created to meet some of the woman who are changing the face of farming in Italy and see how they are using the latest New Holland Agriculture equipment to increase production, to improve quality and to make agri-business even more sustainable. The video was made following the development of the “Evoluzione terra” project, a television programme broadcasted on Italian national TV, made in 2021, which features visits to some Italian farms who use New Holland equipment. The stories are a tribute to the work of Italian farmers and in particular of the women who are fundamental assets in the overall agricultural sector. We would like to produce a second edition next year because we realise that not only the television programme, but also the topics that we talked about in this programme, have been a great success and people are really interested in watching and in observing how women are managing their new role in the agricultural sector and above all, new opportunities. It’s very important for our company as well, because we have to face this new challenge. With this video and through the New Holland brand we are also helping to build a more inclusive culture in the agricultural sector. That is also why our company is so interested in this new scenario, because inclusivity is one of our corporate assets and we are deeply involved in managing this area.
How do you see the role of women in agriculture worldwide evolve in the (near) future?
Women represent the mainstay of the rural economy overall, especially in developing countries. I don’t want to make an analysis involving Africa or India for example, because the story there is completely different. I want to focus our attention on Europe but country by country. The commitment of women is fundamental. They make up almost half of the world’s farmers and over the last few decades they have become increasingly involved and have increasing responsibility on farms. We are all working towards achieving the sustainability development goals of the United Nations agenda which aim to end hunger and malnutrition. We strongly believe that with better access to information, training and technology, women can improve the food system and generate a more sustainable use of land and resources. In certain African countries, women have to face difficulties while managing their job in this sector. In recent years there has been a growing interest in the role of women in agriculture by all the stakeholders involved in the sector. This shows that something has changed and above all it will change further. It must be our responsibility to observe this situation. And it’s not by chance that gender equality and increasing the participation of women in farming are for the first time part of the objective for the new Common Agricultural Policy.
How important are women in agriculture for New Holland?
Women in agriculture are fundamental for New Holland, but also for the other CNH Industrial agricultural brands. Women across the world play a key role in agricultural production, food security, natural resources management, building climate resilience, and many other issues. On 15th of October 2020, International Day of Rural Women, New Holland took the opportunity to celebrate the crucial role of rural women in our society. The unique challenges of recent times have put the spotlight on the importance of their contribution.
The future is not possible without women. New Holland, and CNH Industrial, know this very well. We absolutely want to continue to study and survey the position of women in agriculture. In the future, this can lead to dedicated tailored tools and solutions to help women obtain an even better position in the sector.
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This article was published in Women in Ag Mag 2023-001. Click here to read the magazine.