Introduction: Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit, DEVCO C1- Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition, European Commission
- Magdalena Thomas, Campaigns Coordinator – Feminist Movement Building, Oxfam in Tanzania
- Maria Mbuya, Female Food Hero award winner 2016, Tanzania
- Evelyn Nwaru, Female Food Hero award winner 2016, Nigeria
- Hanna Saarinen, Investment in Agriculture Policy Advisor, Oxfam EU advocacy Office
Maria Mbuya of Tanzania and Evelyn Ifebuche of Nigeria are Female Food Heroes who shine light on the way forward. They have proved that empowering and investing in women farmers is one of the most effective ways to fight hunger and care for a more resilient and secure planet.
- Maria Alfred Mbuya – Tanzania
Maria is a mother of two boys and breadwinner for a family of six. She plants maize, vegetables and water melon on a three-acre farm. Maria is a teacher but her salary is not enough for her family needs, so she pays for her children’s school fees and medical bills with income from selling food crops.
Thanks to winning the Female Food Heroes Award in 2016, Maria can buy a gutter, incubator, fertiliser, seeds, power tiller and 3 acres of land and continue providing for her family. But Maria has a warning, too. She insists women are dependent on progressive agricultural policies that “ensure resources are available to women, especially seeds and also farming equipment”.
- Nwaru Evelyn Ifebuche – Nigeria
Maria Mbuya of Tanzania
Evelyn went into agriculture at a very early age – when she was 10, she was helping her father on the farm. Since her culture usually expects the husband to provide for the women, Evelyn stopped farming when she got married. But due to financial challenges in her marriage, she decided to go back fully into agriculture. Evelyn farms rice, cassava, corn, yam, cocoa yam and groundnut on a 3-hectare plot.
From her farm, she earned enough to support her husband to build a house. Now, she doesn’t only support her immediate family, she also shares with the most vulnerable who are unable to farm in her community. Women from Evelyn’s community are still unable to buy land without the approval of men. But after she won the FFH award in 2016,
Evelyn mobilised 10 women rice farmers into a cooperative to access government inputs, credit and machinery. She formed a women’s Village Savings and Loans Association who meet weekly to save, borrow and discuss other socio-economic issues that affect them. Evelyn’s vision is to inspire other women to become confident in themselves and for women to be given the respect they deserve in the community.
Video of the conference: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/news-and-events/putting-spotlight-small-scale-women-farmers_en
This post was originally published at PAEPARD by François Stepman. It has been republished here with permission.