Small grain farming viable: First Lady

The Sunday Mail

Debra Matabvu

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has urged women farmers to venture into small grains  which are drought and disease tolerant and have potential to enhance the country’s food security.

Speaking at the Midlands Provincial Small Grains Programme Launch for Women in Chirumanzu yesterday, the First Lady said due to climate change that had exacerbated poor rainfall patterns, in areas such as such Midlands, it was prudent for farmers to grow drought-tolerant crops.

“This is a programme that I started in Mashonaland Central (province) and I will be going around the country encouraging women to take up small grains farming,” she said. “Midlands naturally falls under a region which receives below normal rainfall, compared to other regions, such as Mashonaland Central, and with climate change, it is possible to receive low rainfall.

“Experts have said the country is going to receive above normal rainfall from October to December, then low rainfall beginning next year.

“However, I believe that if we plant small grains such as sorghum, which are drought and disease tolerant, we will be able to enhance the country’s food security.

The First Lady gave an example of a company in Matopo which is making breakfast cereals and cakes out of small grains. She added that it was important for farmers to take the issue of value addition seriously.

“It is, however, saddening to note that the impact of climate change undermines more directly on women’s livelihoods, which is predominately centred on rain-fed agriculture, leading to accelerated insecurity problems and heightened impoverishment,” said the First Lady.

“However, empowering the woman means empowering the whole family and community.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima applauded the First Lady for the initiatives she was championing towards women empowerment.

“A few months ago, you were here teaching women about inheritance issues and today you are back to empower them so that there is poverty eradication in this community,” he said.

“This project strongly supports the President’s vision of production and growth during the next year and going forward since production begins at family level.”

National Assembly member for Chirumanzu South Barbara Rwodzi described the First Lady’s small grains production programme as being in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063. She said the First Lady was also working towards achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through poverty eradication and women empowerment. At the event, the First Lady donated 16 tonnes of small grains seed to over 3 000 women. She also handed over an assortment of groceries to elderly women in the area.