BIG SPENDER GRACE DONATES CHICKS TO ZANU PF WOMEN | First Lady Grace Mugabe has embarked on a nationwide poultry training programme that will run until end of next month to empower Zanu-PF Women’s League members, with each province expected to benefit from a donation of 3 000 chicks to kick-start small-scale poultry businesses.

The programme begins with women in Lupane, Binga and Hwange. The training is being facilitated by officials from Irvine’s, a giant in the poultry industry. More women from Umguza, Nkayi and Tsholotsho districts will receive their training tomorrow.

Matabeleland North Women’s League provincial chairperson Cde Medeline Bhebhe said through the chicken project, Dr Mugabe was responding to lack of opportunities among women, which has seen them being highly dependent on men.

“It has been noted that women are lagging behind when it comes to education and empowerment programmes. The First Lady believes this is a serious disadvantage for women as most of them are dependent on their male counterparts for sustainability. The First Lady has come up with a poultry project to empower disadvantaged women,” said Cde Bhebhe.

“Before giving the women the chicks, she realised the need to educate them on how to nurture them. Most of the chicks that were given to the women earlier, died before reaching maturity.

“It’s not clear whether this was because of the heavy rains or due to lack of knowledge on how to keep them. Umama said if she is to dispatch more chicks, women should be taught how to keep them.” Cde Bhebhe could not disclose the exact number of women, who are set to benefit from the programme saying over 400 women would be trained.

She said it was the First Lady’s hope that women would form groups in the chicken rearing programme. Cde Bhebhe said the empowerment of women can help tackle some social ills such as child marriages and prostitution.

She said the issue of child marriages and prostitution was a serious concern in rural and mining areas. “Education is a key empowerment tool because once women are empowered, they can pay for their children’s school fees. We have a lot of girls, who are out of school and engaging in anti-social behaviour. We are living in the era of HIV and Aids but due to lack of education, girls are being married before they fully mature. There are a lot of girls engaging in prostitution in mining areas, so many children are contracting diseases in these areas,” Cde Bhebhe said.

She said reproductive health education campaigns should be conducted in mining areas to save children from contracting HIV among other sexually transmitted diseases.

The First Lady has also supported the Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme, which is expected to ensure food sustainability in the dry and arid Binga District in Matabeleland North. The multi-million dollar project draws water from the Zambezi River and a 100 hectares have been put under seed maize.

Binga District has for years relied on food handouts owing to erratic rainfall patterns. Described as “God-given” by the Binga community, Amai Mugabe has said the district held a special place in her heart and committed herself to working for the development of the region.

The irrigation scheme, established in 2004 with capacity to put 16 000 hectares under irrigation, will transform agricultural productivity for the estimated 130 000 people in the district.


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