Silobela women making a difference through irrigation-fed farming

By Prisca Manyiwa-Masuku

‘Hard work always pays off, whatever you do’, so goes the old English adage that has proved true to rural women at the Silobela Exchange Irrigation Scheme whose lives have been transformed through agriculture.

The middle-aged women have managed to fund their children’s education, build decent accommodations, buy livestock and acquire some basic properties through agricultural production and have vowed to remain in the business.

These women encourage other women to join the agro-enterprise that is proving to be fruitful.

Speaking to Impact Stories Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the tour of the Irrigation Scheme, the best-rated farmer described her journey to success in farming.

“I started farming at this irrigation scheme around the 1970s as a young woman, but now I have grandchildren whom I am also feeding through farming.

“I managed to pay school fees for my children and not even one of them dropped out of school because of financial problems, so farming pays.

“This year I am expecting eight tonnes of maize from this field,” said Evelyn Sibanda who was rated as one of the best farmers at the scheme based on this year’s maize crop.

These women believe that farming as a business is the true medicine to peaceful and productive homes. Hard work is also an antidote to gender-based violence, the women say.

“Through farming, I have managed to send my children to the university, all my four children are graduates of irrigation farming and I am proud of it.

“I am a hardworking person, I do not have time to sit down or gossip because I am always busy and I am happy that I have managed to inculcate that same spirit in my children because even If they are graduates when they come here they work with me in the field.

“Women should rise up and work because gender-based violence is caused by hunger and failure to work with your own hands,” said 55-year-old woman Caritas Hungwe who is one of the longtime farmers at Exchange Irrigation Scheme.

Exchange Irrigation Scheme is also led by a female chairperson Elizabeth Mushonga who is also a long-time beneficiary of the Exchange Irrigation Scheme.

Mushonga urged women to take a leading role in agriculture for the nation’s development. She also shared her life testimony as a farmer.

“I joined Exchange Irrigation Scheme in 1975 and since then I have benefitted a lot from farming. I managed to send my children to school. I built a decent home and acquired some properties through agriculture. So I want to encourage women to venture into farming as a business for the betterment of their lives and the development of the nation,” said Mushonga.      

Of the 982 farmers in the scheme, 500 are women and most of the lead farmers are also women.

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