Farmer's Diary: Women are central to creation of wealth
Posted Wednesday, March 13 2013 at 00:00
Friday last week was International Women’s Day and the theme for the national celebrations was: “Connecting Grassroots Women to Development.” A statement from the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, John Nasasira, which was published in the Daily Monitor indicated that most Ugandan women live in rural areas as subsistence farmers with limited access to natural, human, financial, physical and social resources.
Farmers ought to look at gender equity in relation to how it affects their work and poverty reduction efforts.
If you are a coffee farming household; how often do you openly discuss the amount of money you expect from the year’s harvest and what you plan to do with that money? Do all the family members monitor the crop from the time it is harvested to the time it is sold and how much money is obtained and how is it spent or saved?
Are you like a Pita Kofia (not a real name) who forces his wife and the grown up children to go and work in the coffee plantation but when the coffee is harvested he alone decides what he does with the money?
In such scenarios, the wife and the other members of the home feel cheated and, to avoid missing out, they may resort to harvesting and hiding some of the coffee to sell it without Pita’s knowledge.
He ends up realising minimal profits because some of the harvested coffee is hidden from him. Suspicion and mistrust take over the household, which often results in abandonment of the cash crop or even in the breakage of the marriage itself.
The National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) considers gender equity issues as an important factor in farming. Their resolution is the only hope for rural wealth creation.
On Monday last week, two NUCAFE officials, Ms Caroline Nabukonde, and Ms Devine Frances Asalo, spent the day visiting coffee farming households in Masaka region and assessing how married couples harmonise their coffee growing activities.
Perhaps the most telling story was told by Ms Harriet Luyombo of Kintanda Village in Kabonera Sub-county, who narrated how transparency and gender harmony had enabled the family to buy a better car and to pay all their children’s fees.