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Project seeks to boost women, youth participation in dairy sector

Dakarai Mashava

Features Editor

mashavad@dailynews.co.zw

THE Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC) project, which aims to address the root causes of under-performance in Zimbabwe’s dairy value chain, has identified the participation of women and youth farmers as a strategy to address succession issues.

TranZDVC is a partnership between We Effect, Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) and Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust (ZDIT).

The four participating organisations are convinced that projects in Zimbabwe’s dairy value chain will only be sustainable over the long term if women and youths participate.

“One of the objectives of the Transforming Zimbabwe’s Dairy Value Chain for the Future (TranZDVC) is to promote the participation of women and youth in the dairy value chain as a strategy to address succession issues.

“Many times a dairy enterprise collapses should death occur to the male head of the household owing to the lack orientation on the dairy enterprise to the rest of the family members,” the TranZDVC partners said.

It further noted that despite the fact that women and youth do most of the daily chores associated with dairy farming including, feeding cows, ensuring a clean environment for them to stay healthy and productive, their participation remains largely unrecognised.

“To support gender equality and increase youth participation, we rolled out a youth and gender champion initiative at milk collection centres in the project’s catchment areas.

“The identified gender champions (mainly men) and the youth champions are meant to act as catalysts to encourage the participation of these two groups by giving exemplary peer awareness creation among fellow farmers,” said TranZDVC.

A baseline and milk mapping exercise conducted by We Effect and recently validated by industry actors, established that only 23 percent of the 1935 farmers surveyed were women while the youth were just eight percent of the sample.

“This picture points to an alarming gender disparity in the dairy sector which is typically a male-dominated agribusiness.

“Equally distressing is the low numbers of youths and young people participating in dairy, which poses a threat to succession in dairy enterprises across the country.

“Having very few numbers of young people in the dairy sector is attributed to lack of access to land. Land tenure security remains uncertain among farmers.

“It was established that most farmers who own land for dairy either accessed it through a willing buyer/willing seller model way back in the early 1980s or through the Land Reform Programme of the early 2000s; the later which the youths reported they did not benefit from,” noted the We Effect baseline and milk mapping exercise.

According to We Effect-the lead partner of the TranZDVC project-the proportion of women given 99-year leases still remains very small while youth participation in farming in general is negligible.

“A very insignificant number of young people and youths are currently participating in dairy, either as owners of enterprises or working in the sector.

“Gender mainstreaming and youth participation must help to increase the number of youths and women in the dairy value chain and at the same time promote succession planning at farm and processor level,” said We Effect.

As part of efforts to bridge the gender gap and to infuse young people into the dairy value chain, TranZDVC has identified a total of 120 gender champions and 120 youth champions.

“They have been identified. Training on gender equality concepts and how to increase youth participation in the dairy value chain has commenced. The training is proving to be effective as reports from some farmers indicate that behavioural changes are being recorded,” TranZDVC said.

A female farmer based in Chipinge district in Manicaland province, who identified herself as Sibula, bemoaned the low participation of women in the dairy sector.

“Previously women were not recognised as dairy farmers. Whenever there was a dairy targeted programme, women were not included. The men would just do their business and not involve us. But, after the TranZDVC Gender training programme we attended in Mutare things have changed,” said Sibula.

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