The Graca Machel Trust (GMT) founder Graca Machel has called on women in the country to take the lead in agricultural activities as every economic development lies in their hands.
Speaking in Msundwe in Lilongwe during the official launch of a network of 100 rural-based agro-dealers branded ‘Vuna’ , Machel said gone are the days when women played background roles.
“It is time for women to take leading roles in agriculture. We have always been considered as second class citizens as if we are only there to support. Engaging women in small and medium enterprises [SMEs], especially in seed development, will empower us and the industry will take us seriously,” she said.
Machel, therefore, called on government to consider scaling up seed production in the country by empowering women.
In her remarks, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development director of agriculture Yanira Mtupanyama said the network will allow growth of the seed industry in the country if legitimate seeds that have been regulated adequately are produced and sold.
“The implementation of this model will provide a demonstration of a structured business that can effectively materialise into competitive regional and international trade. Quality marketing of both seed and grain in this model is key and very important to meeting the MGDSIII targets in which agriculture is a priority,” she said.
African Women in Agribusiness Malawi (Awab) is championing the network by developing 10 women-led seed companies which are working with rural populations as their suppliers, distributors as well as customers.
Awab chief executive officer Lilly Musaya said her organisation seeks to unlock and unpack opportunities for wealth creation through Vuna.
“We provide agro-dealers with supplies, training and advisory services. We encourage women to take leading roles in the seed industry, especially soya and cow peas,” she said.
Awab is an African women in agribusiness network under GMT operating in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.