By: Rahma I Adam, Florence Sipalla, Pauline Muindi and Vongai Kandiwa
The maize seed sector in eastern and southern Africa is male-dominated. Most seed companies operating in the region are owned and run by men. Often access to land and financial capital can be a constraint for women who are keen on investing in agriculture. However, there are women working in this sector, breaking social barriers, making a contribution to improving household nutrition and livelihoods by providing jobs and improved seed varieties.
The gender team within the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Socioeconomics Program interviewed 9 women involved in the seed business in this region as part of a collection of stories that will be published as a book this May. In honor of International Women’s Day, held March 8, 2019, the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) and CIMMYT would like to share some of their stories to recognize these women—and many others like them—and highlight the important work that women do in seed systems in Africa.
This is Sylvia Horemans, and this is her story:
Sylvia Horemans started Kamano Seeds in April 2004 together
with her late husband Desire Horemans. The company derives its name from a
stream that runs through their farm in Mwinilinga, Zambia. Kamano means a
stream that never dries, aptly describing the growth the company has enjoyed
over the years, enabling it to capture 15% of the country’s seed market
share. Silvia became the company’s Chief
Executive Officer in 2016.
The recent release of the Nepali version of the 3-D animation video “How to identify & scout Fall Armyworm,” will help the farming community in Nepal prepare for and mitigate the effects of the potential arrival of this devastating insect pest.
Originally from the Americas, Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was identified in
Africa in 2016 and quickly spread to 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where
it caused major crop damage. The pest was first detected in India in 2018,
where it is causing significant loss to farmers in Karnataka and other Southern
Indian states. The ongoing spread of the pest in Asia was confirmed in early
2019 when it was detected in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
While the pest has not yet been detected in Nepal, it is important that farmers
are able to identify the insect pest and learn what to do if they encounter it
on their farms.
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
(CIMMYT) is offering a new set of improved maize hybrids to partners in eastern
and southern Africa and similar agro-ecological zones, to scale up production
for farmers in these areas.