Seed distribution exercise targets rural women

Gogo Martha Nyoni (left) and Sofa Dube hold traditional grain seeds which they received under a Women and Land in Zimbabwe seed distribution programme

SEVENTY-three-year-old Ms Martha Nyoni’s experience in farming has taught her that focusing on growing traditional grains in her area in Datata Village in Gwanda District, which is largely characterised by a low rainfall pattern, boosts food security.

She is one of 200 women from the area who received traditional grain seed from Women and Land Zimbabwe under the second phase of the Food Security and Livelihoods Project — a seed distribution exercise targeting 900 women in seven districts.

The seed distribution exercise started last week under the “Saving lives and protecting human dignity through building rural women’s resilience to climate change for sustainable food security”, a project being implemented by Women and Land in Zimbabwe in partnership with Norwegians People Aid (NPA).

The project started in August and will run until May next year. It is targeting 6 000 women in Gwanda, Chipinge, Gokwe South, Gutu, Makoni, Mwenezi, and Shurugwi districts. Women who will not benefit from the seed distribution programme will benefit from a solar-powered irrigation project, oil processing machines, small livestock production, market linkages, and a training programme.

In an interview after receiving her sorghum seed, Ms Nyoni said she understands the value of traditional grains in dry areas.

“I can tell anyone from my experience in farming that if you are in our area you can never go wrong with traditional grains. Even during a season with low rainfall traditional grains survive but with maize, if the rains are low then the crop will not survive,” she said.

“As long as you plant your traditional grain seed on time you are guaranteed that you will harvest. I’m glad that I have received this sorghum seed because it’s exactly what the doctor has prescribed.”

Ms Sofa Dube (66) said she has been producing traditional grains for over a decade and has never been disappointed. She said the rainfall patterns have changed but as farmers, they have been equipped with knowledge on how to adapt through climate-proofed agriculture.

Ms Dube said the seed distribution exercise comes as a huge relief given that most farmers could not afford to buy seed.

“We have been empowered as women and this is a major resource for us to feed our families. As women, we take the leading role in the fields and the cost of seeds can be a hindrance,” she said.

Ms Shantel Ndlovu (23) said as a young woman, she understands the role she has to play in promoting food security in her area. She said the elderly could no longer farm as vigorously as they did in the past hence the youths have an obligation to take the leading role.

Ms Ndlovu urged youths to embrace agriculture reforms being implemented by the Government and its partners to enhance production. Women and Land in Zimbabwe project officer, Ms Bridget Maskati said those receiving seed are also being trained on climate-smart agriculture.

She said the project is part of efforts to complement Government efforts in implementing and promoting climate-proof agriculture in preparation for the 2023/2024 farming season.

“Under this exercise, we are distributing seed varieties that are high in nutritional content namely bio-fortified maize, NUA 45 beans, and sunflower.

We also have traditional grains, which are suitable for dry regions,” said Ms Maskati.

“We want to help women to adapt to climate shocks which come as a result of climate change. In Gwanda district we have distributed traditional grain seed which include sorghum and millet to about 200 women, and we are also equipping farmers with skills of producing organic liquid fertiliser.”

The Food Security and Livelihoods Project seeks to strengthen livelihoods and contribute to building the resilience of households by meeting their food and income security. The first phase of the project was rolled out from December 2022 to June 2023. The second phase has been upscaled as it will be targeting 6  000 women while the first phase targeted 3 000 women.

Under the first phase of Food Security and Livelihoods Project two solar-powered irrigation schemes have been established in Shurugwi and Makoni Districts.

Farmers have also been trained on Income Savings and Lending (ISAL) and enterprise development as some of the mechanisms to cope with climate change effects. Farmers have also been trained on agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture production.

They have been equipped with liquid fertiliser production skills and the use of natural resources to control pests and diseases. The project also increased farmer’s knowledge of disaster risk reduction. Under the first phase of the project, seven seed banks were established in the districts.


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