African Women Use Farming to Secure Retirement

Source: United Methodist News

Recently, over 60 members of the Harare Inner CIty Circuit Methodist Church gathered at the Agriculture Research Trust farm to learn new skills as they prepare for retirement. The church-related farming ministry focuses on life skills while seeking to empower women to help their families survive and thrive.

World Federation chair for Harare Inner City, Tafadzwa Ndoro, highlighted hunger, poverty, universal primary education, gender equality, women’s empowerment, and climate change as key issues that the organization is facing.

 “At our circuit, we chose to address self-sustenance in retirement to encourage women to start thinking about retirement,” Ndoro said. “The point being, it’s too late to work toward retirement when one is already old.” 

The group’s most recent visit to the Agricultural Research Trust farm was in March.

A graduate of the agriculture program, Willa Bonyongwe, formerly worked in banking. After being reassigned to a heavy fund-management workload, she decided to pivot and look seriously at farming. Although she was apprehensive at first, her husband encouraged her to try it.

“Since 2007,” she said, “I have been growing varieties of crops such as maize, soya, sugar beans and wheat and (raising) poultry. Now I am changing operations into a greenhouse, growing blueberries and applying the new farming techniques I learned.”

Esther Razo, who chairs women’s concerns at the Inner City Circuit, also has high hopes for graduates of the program.  

“I strongly believe women can move out of poverty and sustain their families, prepare themselves for their retirement and help themselves keep strong and healthy,” she said. “I have seen families that have sustained themselves from farming. I have seen farmers send their children to school from farming in general and, specifically, market gardening.

“Hardworking women can feed their children and raise them from farming produce. Farm products can be varied, and women do not necessarily need huge pieces of land. I have managed to supply some of my produce in local supermarkets, making a reasonable profit,” she said. She now employs three workers, one full-time and two part-time.

Johnson Muzarurwi, secretary of the Inner City Circuit United Methodist’s agriculture committee, said the upcoming farmers have learned practical skills at the farm.

“Through integrated training by church agriculturists, agronomists and other experts based at Charter Seeds Starke Aryes, they are able to use modern farming technologies and agricultural systems,” he said.

The goals, he explained, are to improve crop production, management practices, household food security and nutrition among church members. 

Hazel Karuma, chair of circuit connectional ministries, said the church members at Harare Inner City who participated in the program are “amazing.” 

“We expect great harvest proceeds as their thanksgiving to the house of the Lord.”

Source: United Methodist News