By Brenda Wawa and Johnson Siamachira
For International Women’s Day 2016, CIMMYT and MAIZE celebrate women farmers in Africa, who through their resilience, bravery and commitment have weathered challenges in maize farming to put food on the table. These women contribute to enhancing agricultural growth and food security.
Valeria and her daughters and part of their bountiful maize harvest from ‘ngamia’ seed.
Photographer: CIMMYT/Brenda Wawa
When designing and implementing agricultural development projects, it is difficult to ensure that they are responsive to gender dynamics. For Mulunesh Tsegaye, a gender specialist attached to two projects working on the areas of nutrition and mechanization in Ethiopia, participatory approaches are the best way forward.
“I have lived and worked with communities. If you want to help a community, they know best how to do things for themselves. There are also issues of sustainability when you are not there forever. You need to make communities own what has been done in an effective participatory approach,” she said.
In the densely populated areas of South Asia on the Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), climate change threatens to pose an enormous risk to food security. By the year 2050 both regions are expected to suffer crop yield decreases of at least 20%, with a 40% chance of crop failure for maize in a given season in much of Southern Africa, making a sustainable increase of food production critical in the near future.
Valeria and her daughters and part of their bountiful maize harvest from ‘ngamia’ seed. B. Wawa/CIMMYT’
By Brenda Wawa
About her last maize harvest in August 2015, Valeria Pantaleo, a 47-year-old wife and mother of four from Olkalili village, northern Tanzania, waxes lyrical: “I finally managed to buy a calf to replace my two oxen that died at the beginning of the year due to a strange disease.” Valeria relies on the oxen to plow her two-acre land.