CELEBRATING RURAL WOMEN : Rising and Claiming Their Basic Right To Sustainable Development￼
On a mid-morning at Nyambege in Siaya, Veronica Akinyi is bee-bust tendering for her flowering groundnuts crop.
She has been a groundnuts farmer since the year 2017, a venture she says, serves her subsistence more than business purposes.
At the age of 63, Veronica says she has largely lived her life as a mixed crop farmer growing mainly maize, beans and indigenous vegetables until she added groundnuts to this list.
“I have been a farmer for about 40 years now, and I have watched my children grow as I feed them from the farm,” says Veronica, adding, “Now I am feeding my grandchildren through the same venture,”
A small holder farmer, Veronica owns one acre of land and hires another one-and-a-half acre in the neighbourhood in a bid to expand her space of production.
This way, she says, she is able to produce enough for herself and grandchildren and a little for sale.
Like many farmers, she is often faced by challenges such as unpredictable weather patterns occasioned by climate change, lack of enough capital to buy farm inputs among others.
Her challenges resonates with those faced by many women in rural areas especially the developing world.
It is the efforts, determination, hard work and resilience of such women which is celebrated every year on October 15, during the International Day for Rural Women (IDRW).
The day is specially dedicated to millions of women who live in remote rural areas and celebrates their contributions and achievements towards agriculture and rural development.
This year, the theme for IDRW is ‘Rural women rise and claim your basic right to sustainable development’. This is in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of empowering women and enhancing food safety and market access for selected Kenya produce, the European Union (EU) has funded the Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) Kenya.
The program which was launched in 2019, is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with the government and private sector.
“We recognize the efforts by MARKUP Kenya in training women across counties especially on Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), food safety and group dynamics and good governance,” said David Somollo, Siaya County Crops Officer
He added that women account for more than 70 percent of producers in the county a reflection of the high contribution by women to the agriculture sector across counties.
Out of the 180 farmers trained in the county by MARKUP Kenya, Somollo said, 40 percent are women.
MARKUP Kenya Knowledge Management and Communication expert Christine Misiko said out of the almost 1,500 farmers so far trained on Global GAP in different counties, 43 percent of them are women.
Additionally, near 700 farmers trained on group dynamics and good governance, 50 percent are women.
In June, and in tandem with the World Food Safety Day, women were almost 50 percent of the near 300 beneficiaries from Homabay, Siaya and Busia counties who were trained on aflatoxins control and management.
In Embu, Makueni and Machakos counties, women an youths were among beneficiaries of training on clean planting material for mango value chain.
“MARKUP Kenya is keen on working with women and youth. Women play key role in deciding family diets, while young people have many opportunities in the agriculture sector,” noted Christine
She urged women in rural areas to take up their role in enhancing sustainable development.
Women empowerment, Christine added, calls for joined efforts from government, policy makers, development partners among other stakeholders.
As a rural woman herself, Veronica urges the younger generation to embrace agriculture saying that it is an equally, maybe more rewarding sector than white collar jobs.
She says women should cease from concentrating on household chores while they solely depend on men to provide as the hard economic times demand for combined effort.