Empowering women through smallholder farming in Zimbabwe
Agroecology-based smallholder farmer from Chimoyo C Ward 9 in Mutoko District Juliet Kaitano, 37, is one of the farmers that have been receiving education and knowledge of practicing agro-ecology under the Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) project implemented by the Zimbabwe Small Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF) working in collaboration with ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ).
Juliet, a mother of four applauded the initiative of growing small grain crops which was introduced by ZIMSOFF in 2019 as they require relatively little rain, making them more drought resistant than conventional crops such as maize. Her family produces food for consumption and they sell the surplus thereby generating more income for other household needs. Juliet is also a Social Accountability and Monitoring (SAM) committee member.
“I grow small grain crops such as sorghum, finger millet, peanuts, sunflowers, tomatoes, onions and vegetables. From 2018 going back it was difficult because we had a problem with the transport fee, we were charged $5 per bag from Mutoko center to Ward 9 and in total we needed about $9 for the inputs to reach the ward depending on the weight of the items and it was difficult because we had no funds to pay for transport. We ended up planting our own crops. On the other note, the government’s input scheme is usually delivered to us late in the season and when we do receive it, the rains are too little to sustain my maize crops because we are in natural farming region 4 and 5,” she said.
In 2020, Juliet and other smallholder farmers attended budget consultations to raise their concerns over transport charges.
“We attended the budget consultations in 2020, we were 27 farmers and we wanted our voices to be heard in terms of transport charges and our concern was heard. In 2021 we received small grain seeds on time and I was able to grow then sell finger millet and I obtained $345-00 that I had never received in my life.
¨Before PSA Alliance and ZIMSOFF, my children were unable to go to school because I had no money to pay for their school fees or even buy them uniforms. Through this initiative, I am now able to look after my family. Other smallholder farmers have also benefitted from this initiative. As smallholder farmers, we will continue advocating for local markets to be constructed at ward level so that we can sell our products nearby rather than travelling to Mutoko Centre,” she said.