Archive for May, 2014


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A Woman Milking – This is Considered a Woman’s Job

In Kenya and Africa at large, gender roles and birth order often dictate occupations and tasks undertaken by boys and girls. In many cases, girls/women find themselves bearing the brunt of this unequal distribution of responsibilities. Agriculture has suffered under this inequality.
According to an ILO, Agriculture is a significant form of child labor for both boys and girls. While boys are more likely to undertake activities in agriculture (62.8% for boys versus 37.2% for girls) and industry (68.5% for boys versus 31.5% for girls), girls outnumber boys in services (47.4% for boys versus 52.6% for girls). Both boys and girls work in fields and are often isolated for long hours, facing the risk of violence and abuse.
Unlike boys, many girls face the double burden of performing household chores within their own households (for example, cleaning, cooking, childcare, collecting water and firewood), combined with agricultural activities, such as sowing, harvesting and livestock holdings. Taking into account both the work involved in household chores as well as agricultural tasks, there is evidence showing that frequently girls work more hours than boys. Additionally, a higher percentage or girl child laborers are unpaid; and in the situation that child laborers are paid, girls are often paid less than boys for doing the same job. In addition, community attitudes, such as not valuing girls’ education (partially due to different returns to education for boys and girls) and not considering household chores as work, pose additional challenges to improving the situation of girls in rural areas.
Due to the prevailing division of labor along the gender lines, boys and girls are exposed to different risks and hazards: In agriculture boys are often responsible for operating machinery, using sharp tools, spraying chemicals, and they are more often exposed to amputations, cuts and burns, pesticide poisonings, and other adverse health impacts. Girls are often responsible for carrying water, collecting and carrying wood, risking musculoskeletal injuries, fatigue, and sexual abuse.

 

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ICTs are boosting agricultural production in many developing countries. New communication strategies that integrate conventional media, the Internet and other ICTs, have transformed the agricultural extension and changed the way information is disseminated.

In Kenya, this transformational process of change is already in full swing. The government of Kenya is currently rolling out an e-extension programme where agricultural extension officers are being trained and provided with smart phones, laptop and airtime for accessing agricultural information the internet.

The project in Kenya started with the national government but with devolution, the same is being devolved to the country governments. This is basically aimed at  ensuring that farmers at the local level benefits from the project.

Given this new wave of ICT4Agri, policy makers in all the developing countries should identify promising and appropriate ICT applications and promote their usage as part of daily routines. Above all, they should come up with policies that encourage their use among the people who matter most, the farmers themselves.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is observed on various days in many parts of the world. Here, we are commemorating it today the 11th of May but as we do so, what does it mean to be a mother? To love, strengthen, encourage, teach, lift and to nurture the life of other human being? Yes. Women play a wonderful role.
In this journey of motherhood, our mothers endure a lot challenges. As we celebrate them, it is paramount that we remember these challenges. In most African countries, the mainstay of their economies is Agriculture. Our mothers therefore play their motherhood roles within the confines of agriculture and therefore I am going to highlight challenges of the women farmers.

Women farm for food while men do it for the money. This means that women farm to feed their families while men farm to get money which they don’t necessarily use on the family. In so doing to fulfill their motherhood responsibilities, our women face a myriad of challenges;

mothers have to undergo many problems to ensure their families don't go hungry.

mothers have to undergo many problems to ensure their families don’t go hungry.

Unlike their male counterparts, women farmers have little or no access to financial resources. This’ due to the fact that all they produce is food for the family and no surplus to for selling to earn them extra income like men. This leaves women in a situation where they can’t afford to even develop their farms nor get inputs such as fertilizers and seeds for the next season. This poses one of the greatest problems to mothers as it makes it hard for them to take care of their families.
As opposed to men, women have to endure working in poor working environment; since our mothers farm and produce only enough for the family, they don’t have money to hire labour, they have to do all the work by themselves. This is very tedious as the mothers stay on their farms for more than eight hours a day. They sacrifice; do all this to ensure that their families don’t go hungry.
Pests and diseases are a menace that affects all farmers but women are more affected. Pests and diseases are the greatest enemies to crops. While men have access to both resources and means for combating them, women are limited by their lack of access to resources. Mothers therefore resort to using free, inefficient means to control the pests and diseases. Their crops are still infested by pests and diseases lowering their farm’s productivity.
Actually, mothers have to overcome a lot of challenges in their quest to fulfill their motherhood role of feeding their families. A fact we should not forget as we celebrate our wonderful mothers. To all women of the world so I say, “Happy Mother’s day

 

Esther and Agnes selling farm products

Esther and Agnes selling farm products

As youths, our main impediment towards becoming farmers has been our lack of access to land. I have held onto this thinking until recently when I realized I can actually make a living from agriculture without being a land owner. I see people trade in agricultural products – vegetables, cereals, fruits and many others. With this, they would easily pass for your typical farmer selling his or her produce but as I discovered, that’s not true. They are what I would like to call second class farmers.
Esther and Agnes from Kibera slums belong to this class of “second-class” farmers. But I heard one Swahili speaker call them “Mama Mboga” which loosely translates to mother of vegetables. How can you be the mother of vegetable when you are not a farmer? To them, they believe that their work is to link consumers to the farm; they go to the farms and get to their customers whatever they need from there. They have opened up small shops – christened as “Kibanda”. It is in these shops that they conduct their trade – here, they sell eggs, tomatoes, onions, kales, pepper, cabbages, fruits and all that you can get from the farm.

Asking them how they obtain these products, some of them are farmers and so they get them from their farms but others have farmers who do the supplying. The farmers sell these products to them at slightly lower prices compared to their selling prices on the market. Probing further, I learnt a crate of tomatoes is delivered to them at Ksh4000, and it can fetch up to Ksh 10,000. Its paying to be second class farmers for them.

In their "Kibanda",all types of farm products can be found.

In their “Kibanda”,all types of farm products can be found.

“Farmers are the ones who keep us a live,” says Esther, “If they stop farming then we will be finished,” Adds Agnes. If you ate today, you should therefore thank a farmer. This strengthens the assertion that agriculture is the most important sector with the potential to create jobs and change people’s lives. According to these two ladies, this business is what feeds their families and educates their children. “We don’t have land but still benefit from the fruits of farming” says Agnes.
These women are playing an important role in linking farmers to the markets but still benefiting from the same. You don’t have to be a farmer to play a role in agriculture. Hence the importance of understanding agricultural value chains.

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