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.