First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday launched the small grains farming programme targeting rural women, which will be rolled out countrywide to boost household food security.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa flanked by Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Stembiso Nyoni (left) and president of the Senate Mabel Chinomona hand over seed of small grains to Ms Mainess Line during the World International rural women’s day in Mbire yesterday. Picture by Memory Mangombe

The programme, launched at Madzamba Primary School in Mbire during belated International Rural Women’s Day celebrations, helps women farmers insulate themselves from the vagaries of climate change.

Women living in rural areas, the First Lady said, should be recognised for spearheading development at both household and national level, and for resilience during hardships.

She added that Zimbabwe had enough grain and plans are underway to support vulnerable households.

“(International Rural Women’s Day) is highly regarded internationally as the day to appreciate and celebrate the critical contribution made by women living in the rural areas towards making the world a better place,” she said.

“Women living in rural areas deserve this recognition as by virtue of their number and God-given attributes of love and humility, they determine the peace that prevails in their communities, the pace at which communities develop and indeed the overall success of national development programmes. This year’s theme acknowledges the critical importance of agriculture worldwide and that climate change is a real threat to our future generations, who face the bleak prospect of starvation due to water scarcity and even death due to unfavourable weather conditions.”

Amai Mnangagwa said climate change directly impacted rural women, who mostly relied on rain-fed agriculture.

“The time to address the negative impact of climate and increase agriculture production is now. I have, therefore, launched a small grains farming programme today starting with (Mashonaland Central) province. The programme will also be launched in the other nine provinces of the country as a way of enhancing food production.”

She relayed President Mnangagwa’s message on food security.

“I also have a message from President Mnangagwa. He told me to tell you that although the country is expecting low rainfall due to El Niño, we have enough maize. He said Government is now working on a distribution schedule.”

The First Lady has visited Mbire District at least thrice now to assist women in the area with self-help projects.

In July, she facilitated construction of healthcare facilities for the Doma people and launched various income-generating projects in the area.

At yesterday’s event, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement Minister Perrance Shiri encouraged women to take advantage of a new law allowing people to exchange small grains with maize at Grain Marketing Board depots.

“Due to the effects of climate change, it is important for Zimbabwe to foster a culture of incorporating small grain farming,” he said.

“It is areas such as these that women should grow small grains and exchange with maize. It is a new law that we have introduced and should be taken advantage off. There are some regions that do not grow small grains. However, under this law they, too, will be able to benefit from small grains if women in Mbire will take up the initiative.”

Women’s Affairs, Community and SMEs Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, who was also part of the proceedings, said Government was committed to uplifting the lives of rural women. She encouraged women to continue working on projects that enhance their lives and national development.

Present at the celebrations were Senate President Cde Mabel Chinomona, Mashonalnd Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Monica Mavhunga, Lands Deputy Minister David Karoro and legislators.

The First Lady donated four water pumps and a tonne of small grains to the Mbire community.

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