Help­ing women farm­ers pros­per

Vuk'uzenzele - - Local Government - Dale Hes

THE PROJECT has al­lowed more women to par­tic­i­pate in projects in their com­mu­ni­ties while build­ing their knowl­edge and a path­way out of poverty.

The chances of climate change af­fect­ing farm­ing meth­ods of ru­ral fe­male farm­ers in the uM­gun­gundlovu Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in KwaZulu-Natal will be slim thanks to a project im­ple­mented by the South African Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity In­sti­tute (SANBI) and the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal.

The uM­geni Re­silience Project is a R102 mil­lion project which falls under the Adap­ta­tion Fund – an ini­tia­tive which seeks to as­sist com­mu­ni­ties to deal with climate change. The project has changed the way these women go about their ac­tiv­i­ties by en­cour­ag­ing the use of climate re­silient crops, or­ganic fer­tilis­ers and new plough­ing meth­ods.

Matu Gwala re­ceived as­sis­tance from the uM­geni Re­silience Project af­ter strug­gling to farm her crop due to un­pre­dictable climate events such as heavy rains and drought.

She said that the project al­lowed her to grow more climate-re­silient pro­duce, sell it and make a profit.

" I man­aged to buy fur­ni­ture for my house and in­vested some of the money for my chil­dren’s school fees,” said Gwala.

An­other farmer, Win­net Dh­ladhla, had pre­vi­ously used an in­cor­rect plant­ing method where she planted her crops too close to­gether. With the prob­lem sorted out, she was able to make a profit from her pota­toes and from mealies that she grows.

“This has al­lowed me to feed my fam­ily and also make some money on the side,” Dh­ladhla said.

There are cur­rently about 380 women farm­ers ben­e­fit­ting from this project in the prov­ince.

SANBI’s strate­gic grants man­ager, Michael Jen­nings, said that the project seeks to ad­dress the hurdles faced by women farm­ers.

“The project recog­nises that women usu­ally do not own as­sets nor have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate mean­ing­fully in projects due to ex­clu­sive lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions and so­cial norms. It seeks to em­power women through an ap­proach fo­cused on en­gage­ment, ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment and ac­cess to mar­kets,” said Jen­nings.

The project has al­lowed more women to par­tic­i­pate in projects in their com­mu­ni­ties, while build­ing their knowl­edge and ca­pac­ity to make their own de­ci­sions and chart their own path­ways out of poverty.

“Part of this in­cludes train­ing them on or­gan­is­ing, setting up of co-op­er­a­tives and man­ag­ing such co-op­er­a­tives. It also in­cludes learn­ing about climate smart prac­tices that lead to in­creased pro­duc­tion. Through in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture such as com­mu­nity gar­dens, ir­ri­ga­tion tun­nels, and other equip­ment, the project has em­pow­ered women to own re­sources and as­sets,” Jen­nings ex­plained.

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