Women play a very critical role in the development process. In a typical African set up, rural women have the primary responsibility of maintaining the household. They raise children, grow and prepare food, manage family poultry, and collect fuel wood and water. But women also play an important, largely unpaid, role in generating family income by providing labor for planting, weeding, harvesting and threshing crops, and processing produce for sale. They are the backbone of the development of rural and national economies. They comprise largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector.
“When women are empowered and can claim their rights and access to land, leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations”, Michelle Bachelet – Former Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women.
The role of the woman is evident in Machakos County, Ndathini sub county where Regina Mutuku a Farmer Resource Person with OAIC is passionately mobilising and educating small scale farmers in the area on improved and sustainable agriculture. Coming from a rather dry area receiving minimal amounts of rainfall, Regina is championing farming for improved yields at family levels through the adoption farmimg practices based on quality and replantable seeds, drought resistant crops, agroferestry and using organic manure as opposed to the chemically produced fertlisers and GMOs. As a result of her mobilisation process, farmers are adopting eco-friendly farmimg practices and shunning those that pose threats to the environment and human health.
One such beneficiary is Mr. Mutuku Nzioko who has been actively involved in the mobilisation process. As a farmer, he cites that he has been convinced to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticide as the effects are harmful to the crops, soil fertility and also poses threats to humanity if consumed.
In one of the feedback sessions with the FRPs. Mrs. Mutuku gives a story of a child who consumed a mango that had been sprayed with a pesticides whose chemical content was too high that the child was hospitalised after developing health complications and vomiting. A dog that later fed on the vomit waste died soon after and it is assumed that the chemicals in the mango caused it. This is a sign of the harmful chemicals present in the fertilisers and pesticides that not only affects the crops but puts the human health at risk. For this reason, compost manure, green manure and animal manure have been advised as some of the natural ways of pest and disease control on crops.
Her desire to help and sensitize farmers on agriculture is real as expressed in her tone and urge for action. She is deternimed to see the farmers in her area produce highly nutritious food enough to feed their families. In her words, she is aware of the challenges of draught in her community and will continue to give leadership to the farmers to engage the county government of Machakos other relevant stakeholders to see her community achieve food sustainability.