Communities in Thyolo have hailed the Empowering Producers in Commercial Agriculture (EPIC) project run by the Women’s Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec), saying it has improved their livelihoods.
Speaking in an interview, Omega M’bwana Vice chairperson for Nsuwadzi Tea Association which is working with Wolrec, said the project is benefiting 168 tea produces in three Traditional Authorities of Kwethemule, Bvumbwe and Mphuka in the district.
“We used to be observers in development activities taking place in our areas but now we are taking part in all development decisions.
“We are following modern farming techniques and we are also able to resolve disputes in communities and incorporate issues of gender in all aspects,” said Mbwana who is also village head Chaoneka.
The village head said through the project, women negotiated with Satemwa Tea Estate for equal employment opportunities leading to the employment of 76 women on various roles in the estate.
On her part, Clara Nthanda, a community member from Chaoneka village who benefited from the project said: “People believed that only men can do the spraying, but I proved them wrong.
“Even estate owners have started to acknowledge that women can do this. I am benefiting alot from this skill as I am being hired to spray in farms and schemes making up to K5000 a week.”
Project officer Kumvana Mlumbe said it was encouraging to note that not only members of the association were benefiting but also the entire community.
She said: “This project has proved that knowledge is power. We are promoting legal, social and economic justice.
“We make sure information and skills we impart on the members of the association trickle down to their communities and bring about change,” said Mlumbe.
The two year project is being funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) through the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
The project which rolled out in 2019 is expected to wind up in 2021.