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First Lady clinches mega agric projects for women

First Lady clinches mega agric projects for women
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa is shown the various types of cooking oil being produced at Surface Wilmar by the company’s chairman Mr Narotam Someni on Thursday

First Lady clinches mega agric projects for women

THOUSANDS of women across the country’s 10 provinces will, with the help of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, soon take the lead in the production of oil-producing seeds like cotton, sunflower, soya beans and castor bean, in a massive empowerment initiative expected to enhance their role in the country’s macro-economic development.

Already, the First Lady — who has a passion for the empowerment of people — is assisting women in Kanyemba among the Doma community in castor bean production.

Dr Mnangagwa is also working with women, including chiefs’ wives, to promote the cultivation of various crops and traditional grains which have high nutritional value and medicinal properties. The new scheme, which is expected to economically empower women, will be made possible with the partnership that Dr Mnangagwa has forged with leading cooking oil producing company, Surface Wilmar, which will provide seeds, technical support and buy the crop from the women farmers in a scheme largely expected to boost cooking oil production.

Surface Wilmar is a sister company to Olivine Industries.

On Thursday, Dr Mnangagwa toured the Chitungwiza-based Surface Wilmar, which then expressed willingness to work with her for the empowerment of women and to appoint her as Patron of the programme.

All that remains is to formalise the patronship role.

During the tour, the First Lady was taken through the oil processing stages right up to packaging.

Seeds are first taken for laboratory analysis, before being sent for crushing and to the solvent plant. After this they are sent to the refinery before being packaged as cooking oil.

Surface Wilmar, working with the First Lady, wants to promote the farming of the seeds under which it will give women mainly in rural communities the seed for free and buy the crop from them after harvesting.

They are exporting castor beans for herbals and cosmetics. Further, the company donated cooking oil and blankets to Angel of Hope Foundation for onward distribution to the needy.

Mr Sylvester Mangani, the company’s chief executive officer, told the mother of the nation of plans to make her patron of the scheme to boost the production of oil production seeds.

“We invited the First Lady because she is a champion of women empowerment and we wanted to bring to her attention the plight of women farmers who are mainly small-scale farmers who grow our crops like soya beans and cotton seed,” he said.

“We find that our harvests for these crops have been declining over the years, hence by working with the First Lady we have faith that there is going to be a difference because of her hands-on approach and hard work. It is her passion to see women economically empowered.”

Mr Mangani added: “Having highlighted these issues to Amai, she has agreed to champion this cause for women farmers. We are setting up a small scale farmers scheme where she has accepted to be patron and we will be supporting that with inputs to kick off and see the success of these women in farming.

“This is a great thing as this will benefit us as an industry because we will be able to access the oil producing seeds and she will uplift women.”

In her remarks after the tour, the First Lady highlighted that women were naturally hard workers who did the bulk of the work on farms and needed to be supported.

“I am saying why not work with women as women farmers and see how much we are going to get from that?

I know women of this land to be hard workers and if you go out there, you see they are the ones who pick up the cotton. Why not employ those women in their farms, give them seed and start growing those seeds that we want to use for making cooking oil?” she said.

“If we take that line of empowering women farmers, it is going to bring development in our country and also empowerment of women. That will be employment empowerment to our women. I want to thank Surface Wilmar for this scheme.”

Dr Mnangagwa made a passionate plea to men to give their wives portions of land to grow oil producing seeds for the success of the scheme and their benefit.

“Women out there, let us all go to the fields to earn a living from these seeds. Handei tinorima madzimai, mune mari muivhu iri,” she said. “I humbly ask men to give their spouses pieces of land to grow these seeds which are on demand.

“We shall ensure that we get expert advice on the type of crops that are conducive for the country’s agro-economic regions so that our mothers benefit from this low-hanging fruit. We will be working with chiefs’ wives to promote the programme as they are the ones who live with people in their different communities across the country.”

In accepting the donation to Angel of Hope Foundation, Dr Mnangagwa paid tribute to the firm for its assistance to the needy, thus supporting its quest to touch lives.

In her philanthropic works, the First Lady has assisted vulnerable groups and remote parts of the country have not been left behind as she has reached all corners of the country in a bid to give a helping hand to those in need.

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