Source: Farming pays dividends for rural women | The Herald September 26, 2019
Wimbainashe Zhakata Correspondent
There is growing appreciation by smallholder farmers of taking farming as a business, making the commercialisation of small-scale agriculture an integral part of the country’s economic growth and development.
More women are playing an important role in Zimbabwe’s rural economy by rearing poultry, fish and small livestock, and growing food crops, contributing significantly to the country’s food production.
The Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LSFP) run by Practical Action and other partners, is assisting rural women to take up farming as a business helping to open up opportunities for them to eke a living and contribute to the economy.
The programme is being implemented under the Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Production for Increased Resilience and Economic Growth (INSPIRE) project funded by the UK’s Department of International Development and managed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
It aims at improving agricultural productivity and access to markets and nutrition in Makoni, Mutasa and Mutare rural districts.
INSPIRE is supporting rural women in entrepreneurship by addressing the systemic barriers that many rural women face when taking up farming as a business.
Most rural women often face lack of access to capital to promote their start-up initiatives and turn their ideas into a viable farming business.
Practical Action’s INSPIRE project is helping women in Manicaland to engage in self-sustaining farming business projects that are increasing their income and reducing poverty in their areas.
Knowledge management and communications coordinator for Practical Action Mr Innocent Katsande said these projects were meant to curb hunger following drought seasons.
“Increasing the capacity of smallholder farmers to produce food, building their resilience against climate shocks and disasters such drought and flooding is key to ensure national food security and nutrition.”
Climate change and global warming have resulted in water challenges in the country as a whole, which is causing hunger in the nation.
Manicaland is largely under a climatic region which receives enough rainfall, but has of late been experiencing erratic rains.
Mrs Caroline Phiri from Ward 16, Mafararikwa Village, bragged about being in the fishing business.
She told journalists on a tour of rural projects under INSPIRE that more women should engage in business in order to arrest poverty.
She was operating under Senda Cooperative in Mafararikwa Village, Bocha.
The cooperative is women-dominated with a total of 12 members, seven are women while five are men.
“We grow different crops at this cooperative, which include a variety of vegetables.
These crops provide good nutrition for our children.
“In our gardens we have cucumbers, watermelons, butternuts, carrots among others.
“As women in rural areas we used to struggle on our diet.
“We cooked unbalanced meals, such as rice and potatoes.
“We never knew how to mix nutritious food to come up with a balanced diet. Through INSPIRE we learnt a lot through attending workshops on business, nutrition, and even the Constitution.
“They motivated us to raise money through ISALS to start our projects,” said Mrs Phiri.
She said the Mafararikwa community is benefiting from the project in different ways.
“Currently, we are into poultry business, where we offer hatchery services to the community.
“So this is helping us a lot in terms of increasing income.
“We also have two incubators that we sometimes give to the community for hatchery services,” added Mrs Phiri.
She said they were now earning more money through the projects.
“As a woman I am now able to pay school fees for my children and cook nutritious food for them.
“All my children attend school without any interference through this business.
“I can pay school fees on time as well as assisting my husband with money and clothing.
“I am now a breadwinner in my family and my husband is happy with it,” said Mrs Phiri.
She said she leant that children need best care when they are in school.