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    | By Nancy Mukelabai |

    Women involvement in the agriculture sector is key as they play an integral role in the development of various agriculture enterprises. One such enterprise is cashew production, which has witnessed a few women participate in cashew growing. This is attributed to a number of factors which include lack of access to land, being overburdened by house chores and also those who are married, fear offering their labour in the event of divorce; they would lose out on the benefits of growing cashew.

    But, government recognizes the importance of engaging women in cashew production through the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP). The project has revived cashew growing in Western province and targets 50% of women participation in all the ten districts where the projects supports cashew production.

    The project intends to empower women with full time jobs along the cashew value chain from production to marketing and at full maturity of the cashew trees each farming household to have an income.

    The Ministry of Agriculture in Kalabo district has a target of 3,200 women participation in growing cashew through holding several sensitization meetings.

    One of the women cashew farmers is Maliyana Siliya of Limbwambwatu village under Namatindi agricultural camp. Mrs Siliya is among the women cashew farmer who was reached out during the sensitization meetings.

    She immediately registered herself with the area Camp Extension Officer Aggrey Shabyungwe. During the first planting season of 2017/2018, she benefitted 100 cashew seedlings. Of these seedlings, 80 survived.

    Mrs Siliya attributed the reduction in the number of surviving cashew seedlings to drought. However, she managed to contain the situation by continuously watering her seedlings at the initial stage of planting them.

    “I have always survived through farming ever since I was a child, and this made me immediately register as a cashew farmer when the project was introduced to us. I have always known that farming is able to improve a person’s life through income generation and food security at house hold level,” said Mrs Siliya.

    She explained that though she had never heard of growing cashew as a business, she opted to give it a try after learning of the advantages of growing cashew, noting that she needs to plant more cashew seedlings each planting season so that in order to become a role model to other women.woman 1

    Mrs Siliya is among the women who have willingly taken up cashew growing in addition to the other crops that she has been growing. The Cashew Infrastructure Development Project has attached much importance to the participation of women in cashew production. The importance of women in agriculture has always been emphasized as there is need for all to be involved, not only to feed the growing population but to also create decent employment for millions of youths.

    Despite the climate challenges that were faced during the 2018/2019 farming season, some farmers did not lose hope by extending their cashew fields.

    Mrs Siliya has again benefitted 200 cashew seedlings of polyclonal type from the locally established nursery. She has planted the seedlings on a two hectare piece of land. With the good rains experienced this season, she anticipates a good number of surviving seedlings.

    Another female cashew farmer is Madam Gillian Namele of Yuka area under Kanchumwa agricultural camp, she planted 200 cashew seedlings in the first farming season, during the second planting season she benefitted 250 seeds for planting. Out of that number of seeds, only 150 survived after the nursery establishment and planting in the main field.

    Then again, she benefitted 50 seedlings from the project, only 70 more survived. In total, she has a field of 410 surviving cashew trees which are at different stages of growth.

    The participation of women in growing cashew is an indication that they equally play an important role in promoting the growing of newly introduced crops. The women in all the 10 cashew hub districts in the province are being urged to fully embrace growing cashew as it will have a great impact on their lives, including their families.

    Kalabo district Acting Senior Agricultural Officer Royd Sarenje disclosed that as an office they will have to come up with strategies that will increase the participation of women at all stages in the value chain from cashew growing, processing, packaging and marketing of the crop.

    “The promotion of cashew growing in the district will have to involve women at all stages. We will have to involve the induna’s in all the sensitization meetings that will be held where gender mainstreaming will be discussed. We want our induna’s to learn and appreciate the importance of women participation in all developmental activities including agriculture,” said Mr Sarenje.

    The development of any country involves the efforts and participation of everyone regardless of gender. Women are key players in poverty and vulnerability reduction through their involvement in many activities including agriculture.

    The government’s target of a 50% participation of women in the reviving of cashew growing in Western province will result in increased employment, improved income, food security and nutrition at both house hold and national levels as cashew is an important export crop. 

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