WORLD POVERTY FORUM SPEECH by Mrs. Depinah Nkomo (11 and 12 Jan 2020)
It’s an honor, to stand in front of you, Ladies and gentlemen
All the way from Zimbabwe. My name is Depinah Nkomo, FOUNDER President of Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust. I am here to share my experience, through my leadership, and learn more from all of you here, Our organization was formed in 2012, After facing so many challenges in our farming businesses.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust ZIWFAT is a trust for women farmers in Zimbabwe formed in February 2012, Depinah Nkomo who saw the plight of women farmers when they would queue sleep at for inputs at Grain Marketing Board depots. During the 2011 season, some women would sleep at the depots. Others were almost killed and abused as they would go to GMB depots in the early hours of the morning, and Mrs. Depinah Nkomo was one of the victims. They perceived that if they approach a company as a group, they will receive more attention, than as individuals.
By end of December 2013, 5 500 women farmers had joined the association. As of December 2014, ZIWFAT had over 7 100 members all over the ten 10 Provinces. In each province, we have executive leadership from the provincial level to the Ward level. The vision of ZIWFAT is to uplift all women farmers from the grassroots level to boost and contribute to the NATIONAL Food Security through Agriculture. At Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust. ZIWFAT we’re committed to ending POVERTY by attacking its root cause. Not only consequences. Women are encouraged to use their hands.
ZIWFAT identifies trains and empowers emerging women farmers and social entrepreneurs around the country, enabling them to create a better world for the country and their families.mWe have managed to attract and recruit many talented women through our advocacy for farmers. Members are not assessed on their qualifications, but their attitude to farming and whether they have a piece of land. Everyone gets basic training, is offered the same opportunities, and has prospects of becoming a commercial farmer We encourage our members to have, income-generating projects like
- Bee Keeping
- Cattle Ranching
- Internal Savings and lending
- Market Gardening
- Value Addition for our farm produces.
Women Farmers are crying foul over Marginalization. We want to be looked upon This includes the girl child and the mothers.
SUPPORT A WOMAN, YOU KNOW YOU ARE SUPPORTING THE WHOLE NATION.
IT is in this view that ZIWFAT as a women’s organization is advocating for assistance to assist women venturing into horticulture. The assistance is required in the form of farm machinery& equipment, irrigation development, inputs, and working capital. Once the above are put in place, the women will be able to venture into organic farming which provides healthy food locally and abroad. Besides producing, we’re also looking at producing value-added products. Agro-processing has tremendous potential for increasing income through value addition and increasing shelf life and access to food security through the establishment of small-scale agro-processing enterprises and rural-based industries. For example, tomatoes rot due to lack of transport or flooded market yet if they had value addition machinery this could have been turned into money e.g. tomato sauce, soup, etc.
Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy, it must be fully supported by Government, Banks, and all other stakeholders. The overall goal of this intervention area has the bottom line of deeper regional integration and POVERTY eradicating. The main strategies include the development and implementation of regional value chains and promoting value addition in selected priority sectors, particularly agriculture. There is clearly recognition by SADC that agriculture value chains can play a key role in POVERTY eradication. More than 70percent of the population in southern Africa, and the vast majority of poor, are engaged in smallholder rain_fed agriculture and related activities. Small_scale agriculture is a major source of income for poor households. For example, it accounts for over 75 percent of the income for nearly two-thirds of rural households in Mozambique and Zambia. The majority of those engaged in small-scale food production are women. In many SADC countries, the majority of economically active women work in Agriculture, with some 94 percent in Malawi and Mozambique. Women in Sub Saharan Africa take 75 percent of the task involved in food production and 90 percent in food processing, Women, therefore, play a major role in the entire agriculture value chains.
SADC,s objectives for POVERTY eradication and deeper levels of integration have been pursued under the Theme, Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and social development through beneficiary and Value Addition. For this to be successful there needs to be a concerted effort to support small-scale operators, especially women, to participate meaningfully in value chains, including food production and agro_processing. This will require targeted interventions in the industrialization Strategy to prioritize small-scale operators as well as addressing existing structural, policy, and governance deficits that underlie their POVERTY and vulnerability. SADC states reaffirmed their commitment to agriculture at the African Union Heads of State Summit in July 2014, in Malabo.
Strategic planning for industrial development in the region cannot negate these existing commitments which include:
Allocating at least 10percent of public expenditure to agriculture.
Halving the cur ent levels of Post_Harvest Losses, by the Year 2025 Integrating social protection initiatives focusing on vulnerable social groups. Enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks. Doubling current agriculture productivity levels, by the Year 2025, including through inputs: knowledge and skills; water management and irrigation; and mechanization and energy supplies. Contributing at least 50 percent to the overall POVERTY reduction target including through inclusive public_private partnerships for value chains with strong linkage to smallholder agriculture; and preferential entry and participation for women and youth in gainful and attractive agribusiness opportunities.
Agro-processing not only raises the value of products but often raises the shelf_life as well, reducing food waste. But small scale producers, especially women do not have sufficient access to facilities for the value addition of their products and are thus excluded from moving up the value chain into agribusiness.
There is a dire need to ensure that the interventions and investments to promote and support handling, processing, and storage facilities for agricultural products do not exclude women, who are often disadvantaged in terms of their access to developed infrastructure. It is furthermore necessary that the facilities themselves be appropriate for small-scale producers and easily accessible by them. To overcome the exclusion of small-scale producers and women from agriculture value_addition, targeted efforts must be undertaken to capacitate these groups. Training in the skills required, as well as best bet techniques, for processing and adding value to agriculture products produced by smallholders and women must be provided. SADC is well_placed to ensure that exchange visits and other skills development programs be implemented specifically for women and small-scale producers by training institutions in the region.
The SADC region should begin to move away from its excessive heavy dependence on imported agro_inputs by supporting the local input manufacturing industry. However, efforts at a regional level for MSs and the private sector to have a joint regional approach for competitive manufacture and distribution of agro-inputs must ensure that these are suitable to smallholder producers, in particular women. There are many other issues, separate but closely related to industrial development, limit small-scale food producers, especially women, from participation in value chains.
The efforts above would be incomplete if not complemented by the provision of financial support required for value addition activities. SADC states must strive to formulate alternative financing options and provide preferential interest rates that target smallholder farmers, especially women and youths. Member States should generally amend enforce laws to ensure women’s financial rights, particularly their rights to property, wages, or inheritances.
More efforts are necessary for capacity building in terms of trade and markets of small-scale producers, who disproportionately face bar is to trade. Extension services should also improve the business and entrepreneurial skills of smallholder farmers. Capacity building is also beneficial in establishing market relationships that are formal and fair between producers and buyers. Farmers’ organizations can play a key role here but their capacity to assist farmers in market agricultural products needs to be facilitated, and gender balance in farmer organization membership must be achieved. Smallholder and women farmers face significant challenges amongst which are unequal access to productive resources, technologies, and services; increasing concentration of agricultural markets; limited and costly access to agricultural finance; and disproportionate exposure to the risks of climate change.
Climate change has affected all of us as farmers. However, for us to sustain the changing rainfall pattern, every woman and youth should and must have a borehole such that if every woman can irrigate one or two hectares, we can actually boost our food security. Therefore, I plead with those who can assist us as women and youths, take the stand, and help us secure food for our countries.
SUPPORT A WOMAN and you know you are supporting the whole world I want to thank everyone present here. Let’s work together as a team and try to bring back the breadbasket of Africa.