GISAGARA – The dry spell that is being experienced in some districts of the Eastern and Southern provinces has affected new farming season preparations, and could affect food production in this ‘drought corridor,’ the Minister of Agriculture has warned.
Speaking during celebrations to mark World Food and Rural Women day in Gisagara District, on Saturday, Dr Agnes Kalibata, said that one of the consequences of ongoing dry spell is that crops such as maize that need 2-3 months of rain will not be grown.
“The situation in Gisagara is reflected in most of the Southern Province and some districts in the Eastern Province in what we call the ‘drought corridor’. We do not have a major problem in the North and the West because everything there is going according to plan,” Kalibata said.
She added: “We are adjusting our plans to match what is happening on the ground, I have instructed the district leadership to encourage residents to grow short duration crops like beans but also to plant drought resistant crops like cassava which can be planted until the end of December.”
Commenting on this years’ theme: ‘To end hunger, support women farmers by giving them equal access to land, finance and inputs,’ Kalibata said that, despite the fact that women contribute a big share of food production, they still have very limited access to means of food production.
“We have secured the issue of land, more women now have access to land than in the past but we still have to increase the number of women who have access to financing. We still need to increase the number of women who are in cooperatives and we still need to train them on hoe they can best do agriculture as a business,” she said.
Odda Gasinzigwa, the chief gender monitor, said that poverty was the biggest challenge facing women in the present-day. “We have to work together in our different capacities to stem poverty which affects women more,” she said.
Gasinzigwa noted that different laws have been put in place and those deemed insensitive to gender promotion were amended. She called on women to make good use of the existing favourable environment in the country, and engage more in different poverty eradication programmes so as to promote the welfare of their families.
Josephine Uwamariya, the Country Director of ActionAid, called upon policy-makers to ensure that thi big part of the population (women), which she said produces about 80 percent of all the food, in the world is provided for.
“We also call on donors; the people providing the resources, to support rural women farmers to produce more food so that we can end hunger,” said Uwamariya.
The celebrations which coincided with the monthly community work saw the preparation of land where improved banana tubers provided by ActionAid will be planted.
Exemplary women farmers in Gishubi Sector walked away with donations of cows from ActionAid and other gifts from Care International.