AGCO Zambia’s General Manager, Kalongo Chitengi discusses supporting AFRICA’S women farmers on international women’s day

On 8th March 2021, Self-help Africa hosted women in Business in Africa and Europe in a virtual conference to commemorate International Women’s day. The conference centred on challenges and opportunities for women in Business.

As one of the invited speakers, Kalongo Chitengi spoke largely on the challenges that women in agriculture face especially in smallholder systems where agriculture is dependent on drudgery. She pointed out the need to embrace mechanization in Africa especially for women who provide hard labour and are responsible for feeding their children.

“Women are not only working hard in the fields but are also raising children. Young girls therefore have to help with some of the work including cultivation and other house chores. 

They take on the responsibility of caring for their younger siblings as their mothers work on the farms. 

This raises the question, “should the girls stay at home and help in the fields and in the household or should they go to school?” says Kalongo.

 

“If the girls stay home and help which is the norm, they lose an equal opportunity to get an education and be empowered, and ultimately, she has to raise her daughters in the same vicious cycle. It creates a never-ending cycle,” she adds.
 
One proven solution we have seen is that “mechanization can help turn the tables by relieving women of the strenuous work.” Kalongo says. “Although, past mechanization projects in Africa have not been inclusive and women farmers have always been left out. Mechanizing agriculture therefore needs to be a “multi-sectoral approach” between governments, civil societies and bilateral projects to ensure women have equal access.”
 
Kalongo shared some of the ways the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm is empowering female farmers by offering basic agronomy training and business programs to help women improve their farming practices and productivity, and therefore profitability so that they can afford equipment like tractors.

In addition, at the Future Farm, there are a number of female tractor operators who show other women how to use the Massey Ferguson Global Series tractors in their operations.

Watch Kalongo’s presentation here (1:06:00-1:26:00).

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