The story of Teleza Mgundeni, a female farmer from Dagalasi irrigation scheme in the community of T/A Nkanda, bares similar positives to that of Emily. Walking down memory lane, the beneficiary of Othakarhaka’s sustainable agriculture program recalls that when Cyclone Anna destroyed houses and crops belonging to some households in her village, many individuals including herself were left devastated.
“In the midst of our despair, Othakarhaka foundation with financial support from K2 & Hill-Lightfoot Trust, managed to reach out to us and supported the most affected families with seeds and fertilizer for us to plant again through irrigation,” she said.
Also sharing the happy ending of the story, Teleza and the majority of her fellow small-scale farmers are now empowered economically as they are selling their sweet potatoes and fresh maize while keeping some for their home consumption. Today, Teleza is able not only to produce enough food for her household but she is also able sell some of the harvest for herself. From the proceeds of those she sold, she has managed to rebuild her house which got destroyed by the same cyclones.
Ida Puliwa Mwango, Founder of Othakarhaka Foundation, said that their goal is to empower these farmers so that they are able to plant twice a year through the normal rain-fed planting season and through irrigation farming.
“Our efforts are increasingly becoming encouraging in the implementation of our sustainable agriculture program which aims at food security through irrigation farming and provision of farm inputs such as pesticides, seeds and fertilizers.
“Just this week, we inspected our farming schemes in the areas of T/A Nkanda and T/A Mabuka, to monitor progress. To our satisfaction, the ripe and super green maize and sweet potatoes signaled that irrigation farming is indeed a game changer. Such a development, is an indicator that irrigation is a game changer in the quest to transform women to heights of economic independence,” she says.
Puliwa is rest assured of the efficiency of irrigation farming having seen a number of women becoming financially independent from it, for example, Emily and Teleza.
“This country can economically empower a lot of women if they are exposed to social entrepreneurship by means of introduction to modern methods of agriculture like irrigation farming. Irrigation has demonstrated to be a sure alternative of dealing with the problem of climate change as rains start falling at a later time than it is normal,” she explains.
At a time when a lot of women are out of financial alternatives, Rhoda Kalosi a mother of five, has her 5 bags of maize on the market and she is thankful to Gibisani irrigation scheme.
The incontestable success rendered by multiple women from the area of T/A Nkanda and T/A Mabuka under Othakarhaka’s sustainable agriculture demonstrates the power of irrigation farming in accelerating food security and pushing women to economic emancipation is aligning with Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 to end hunger and poverty. It is also in tandem with Sustainable Development Goal 5 which is to achieve gender equality, as one way of achieving equality is through economic empowerment.