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Woman Farmer Foundation

Empowerment of Woman Farmers in Swaziland
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Woman Farmer Foundation Profile 2017

Location

Riders Ranch Sidvokodvo along Manzini �Nhlangano road (Pebbles farm 28)

Who we are

Woman Farmer Foundation is a registered nongovernmental Organization under the act of Swaziland.It was founded by Sonia Paiva in 2010 and it started as a woman farmer competition of the year in 2007.Her passion was to see women growing in the agricultural sector.

What we do

Our mandate is to empower, equip, promote and advance the interests of Swazi women in the agricultural sector from subsistence level to commercial, especially the women in the rural areas, subsequently increasing food security and mitigating the issues of poverty and hunger in the country. Woman Farmer Foundation has a national focus to its implementation and work in Swaziland. The ultimate desire is to affect and touch communities in all the 55 constituencies of Swaziland through innovative, practical and sustainable developmental strategies.WFF therefore endeavours to empower women through expanding their knowledge base through the dissemination of information by means of workshop trainings at the constituencies or at arranged venues. Our work contributes to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by directly or indirectly working to achieve them, especially that to promote gender equality and empower women (goal number 3) and eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

The following are a number of sectors which WFF is compounded under:

  • Food Security and Agriculture

The organization empowerswoman farmersto have physicaland economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and foodpreferences for an active and healthy life. This we believe also works to improve the social status of the woman in the rural communities. WFF links woman farmers to various markets to enable them to improve their productivity as the demand for agricultural products and by products is never ending.

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Diseases related to inadequate (or unsafe) water, sanitation and hygiene pose a huge burden in developing countries as the innovative capacity of the citizenry is compromised and thus the developmental progress. Schools with poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions are high risk environments for children and staff with the intense person-to-person contact and this worsens the susceptibility to environmental health hazards. With this in mind,the Woman Farmer Foundation has been involved in awater development project in the Lowveld area of the country. The Lowveld is characterized by dry spells and scarcity of water in some locations. The water development project comprised of the construction of two (2) boreholes and the rehabilitation of another two (2) boreholes for more than 2000 beneficiaries under one constituency. The rehabilitation and construction of the boreholes was done in 3 communities in the Hhohho region, namely the Zandondo community and Zandondo high school, the Sonta community and Nconcodvwane community. These communities are all under the Mandlangempisi constituency. The project also included workshops to train the communities on water borne disease prevention and water management.

  • Gender Equality

Women in African societies are generally sidelined when it comes to issues of community development and also being included in decision making bodies.WFF believes that empowering a woman is empowering the whole nation, that because women are also responsible for nurturing the future generation of the country�s citizenry.The inclusion and empowerment of women requires profound changes in the mind and hearts of people and in the various structures of society. It begins with the understanding that the equality of women and men is more than a desired condition to be achieved for the common good, but it is a dimension of women in reality. Agriculture is the backbone of any developing or developed nation and thus is the basis for advancement in science and technology, and also provides for innovation and industriousness within a population. The organization strives for such realizations with its membership. To ensure the inclusion of women in decision making bodies, the organization comprises a technical working committee that is constituted by the woman farmer competition first prize winners, and currently has 9 members (a summation of the winners from inception of the annual competition to date). These women have become mentors in societies and communities at large.

  • Youth Empowerment

WFF believes that if knowledge is replicated, especially to the young generation, it will surely go a long way in advancing development in the country and also in improving the socio-economic status of the rural youth. The organization will be undertaking a youth empowerment project as a means to ensure that livelihoods are improved not just for women but also the youthful girl and boy. Focus in this project will mostly be with the feminine youth, however with no intent to be prejudice over the males. Focus on the female youth is because of their susceptibility and vulnerability to social ills such as being taken advantage of by lustful older males (a common thing now in most developing countries). A youth farmer of the year competition will also be hosted as part of the initiative to mentor the youth partaking in agribusiness. We aim to establish and host the youth competition annually in an effort to incentivize youth participation in agribusiness and in the value chain of agro-products.

Our Vision

To identify, recognize and develop a corps of �model� women farmers across Swaziland who will inspire and capacitate their communities to mitigate the effects of rural poverty.

Our Mission

The Woman Farmer Foundation strives to empower and develop the woman in the agricultural sector and in the process uplifting her low social status.

Our Goal

Enhance and improve the lives of people in all communities around Swaziland and beyond as well as improving the quality of life and health for all.

OBJECTIVES

  • To establish framework that will promote active participation of Swazi women in agriculture.
  • Capacity building on women farmers on business management in agriculture.
  • To establish farming networks and associations for all agricultural produce.
  • To incentive strong community women farmers� networks by creating a structured programme meant to enhance their participation in farming.
  • To enhance and strengthen community based women farmer networks through sharing of best practices, linking to market forces and the role of the government.

Endeavours

  • Working to develop agricultural businesses
  • Connecting agricultural businesses to value chains

Mhlophe Mhlanga (4th from the left) together with the second and third place winners posing for a picture with competition sponsors from Nedbank and Total, the Prime Minister Dr. S.B Dlamini, the Minister of Agriculture the honourable M. Vilakati, Woman Farmer Foundation founder and director Mrs Sonia Paiva.


Mhlophe Mhlanga posing for a picture with the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. S.B Dlamini and Mrs. Sonia Paiva.


Mhlophe Mhlanga posing with her maize crops.

WFF Organogram

WFF organogram

Woman Farmer of the year competition

The Woman Farmer Foundation pridesitself in successfully hosting the annual �Woman Farmer of the Year Competition� since 2007. The competition is open to all woman farmers involved in agricultural enterprising throughout Swaziland. A team of selected judges visit the entrant homesteads to assess theirenterprises and livelihoods.The criterion used for assessment is based on provided parameters for each enterprise and the scores distributed as follows:

  • Sixty five percent(65%) quality of the Main enterprise
  • Twenty five percent (25%) Home management
  • Ten percent (10%) leadership and community services

The assessment of the farmers is conducted in two phases. Once the initial assessment has been done, the panel of judges meets and discusses the findings, after which the scores are tallied to draw up the top 10 of the initial assessment. The 10 undergoes a second assessment by anotherset of judges. The best performer out of the ten is then selected the overall winner. Prizes are awarded to all ten that undergo the second assessment, of which they are awarded according to their different enterprises. Top 50 farmers are awarded a chance of acquiring skills and knowledge through training based on the recommendations by the judges. Such trainings include sponsored exposure visits to large scale commercial farms in neighbouring South Africa and locally, trainings on the technical aspects of the different enterprises, and entrepreneurship trainings. The trainings are conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant stakeholders that partake in the development of agribusinesses in the country.

The Woman Farmer of the Year Competition started three years before the Woman Farmer Foundation was founded in 2010.

For the first time since the inception of the competition initiative nine years, the prize presentation ceremony was graced by the presence of the Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini. The organization welcomed his presence as a huge sign of endorsement and acceptance by the government of the work done by the organization. This was further assured in the remarks made by His Excellency, who also promised a budgetary allocation towards the running of the competition in the coming years. His presence also provided for an opportunity to share the achievements and challenges of women farmers and the work done by the Foundation so far.

Through the initiative of the competition, the woman farmers have been assisted to source finance, exchange skills, network and source markets for their produce such as Eswatini Kitchen. The initiative however still faces challenges with the lack of technical extension services for the woman farmers, of monitoring and evaluation because of the absence of motor vehicles for reaching the farmers in the different regions of the country, and limited sponsorship for the competition. Assistance received is usually associated with the presentation ceremony, yet the Foundation has a programme to reach out to the women throughout the country on a regular basis.

This years� winner in the large-scale category, Mhlophe Mhlanga, is diverse farmer that produces a variety of agricultural products from crops and herbs to livestock and fruits. She started out in the year 2009 on leased communal land. To date she has managed to grow her enterprise to produce maize, legumes, sweet potato, beetroot, butternut, spinach, and cabbages on the leased communal lands. She also rears and sells indigenous chickens to local food businesses while also managing 24 beehives to produce about 100kg of honey which she supplies to Eswatini Kitchen and other retail outlets in Ezulwini and Mbabane. She also has an orchard that she manages to produce fruits such as papaya, mangoes and litchi.

Mhlophe Mhlanga does not only produce agricultural products but also practices social responsibility by managing 4 soup kitchens that take care of 490 orphaned and vulnerable children in her constituency, ensuring a daily balanced meal for the children through her produce. She is also actively involved in projects aimed at empowering women and youth under her constituency, as she is currently mentoring 59 emerging woman farmers.

WFF Link with Eswatini Kitchen

Eswatini kitchen is a primary and guaranteed market for the organizations members. The strong link between the entities is as a result of the synergy realised between the two entities, which ensures that the entire value chain for the production and distribution of natural gourmet food is systematically taken care of from farm to consumer. This systematic process is realised through the mandate of WFF to empower rural women by promoting sustainable livelihoods through agriculture, while Eswatini Kitchen also employs about 30 disadvantaged women (98 percent of whom are single mothers) in the factory.

The supply of chilli pepper, ginger, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes, mangoes, and other fruits and vegetables to Eswatini Kitchen is guaranteed through organized farming and capacity building of the woman farmers. The modern factory situated at Sidvokodvo has the capacity to produce a million jars a month of the varied gourmet food products.

WFF Membership

The organization has a membership of over 2000 woman farmers that undertake varied agricultural enterprises which include; Piggery, goat rearing, indigenous chicken farming, dairy, vegetable production, beekeeping, and fruit production to name a few, and the membership continues to grow. To become a member of the foundation will only cost an individual 100 Emalangeni and becoming a member certainly comes with benefits. These benefits include acquiring agricultural inputs at discounted prices (for card holders), having linkages to guaranteed markets for the produce, and having the opportunity to get Entrepreneural mentoring which undoubtedly helps grow the enterprise.

Impact of the Woman Farmer Foundation

The organization has had a positive impact on the lives of more than 2000 of its members over the past nine years, both as the initial annual competition and as a functional non-governmental organization, as it is now renowned among local communities, local and national government officials, and international donors for its pioneering work in women�s development and upliftment of rural enterprises. A majority of our members have established their businesses and others have expanded leading to improved household incomes, which in-turn means improved life standards and education for their children.

Feedback received about the training and monitoring programs is that there is enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem, that their agricultural activities have mobilised their participation in local community decision-making bodies and also influence their local economies. The personal intrinsic benefits gained by the woman farmers are perhaps the most valuable and sought after by the development practitioners. Self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation, ambition, courage, and self-reliance are all essential Entrepreneural qualities demonstrated by the Woman Farmer Foundation.


Mrs Paiva (3rd from the left) with members of the Technical working committee.


Diversity is encouraged with our farmers. Here a farmer has an integrated vegetable and crop garden to the left, and planted pastures for her dairy cows.


Seedling production by one of the foundations� members.


An apiary situated next to a eucalyptus plantation. This is one of the many enterprises by the woman farmer foundation members.


Diversity is key. This is at one of our members homestead (communal land). Her cultivars comprise of lettuce, sweet potato, a mini papaya orchard, beetroot, and maize.


A communal training session for the construction of Langstroth bee hives in progress. Langstroth hives are ideal for commercial bee farming.

Contact Us

Postal Address:

P O Box 388
Matsapha M200
Swaziland

Telephone: +268 2537 3008
Fax: +268 2537 3051
Email: info@womanfarmerfoundation.com
Facebook: Woman Farmer Foundation