Sunday, October 30, 2011

Women as key players in attaining food security

Nguruman location is part of larger Magadi division, Kajiado North District, 160 Kilometres south west of Nairobi. Women around this place have realized that, food security is a factor to be looked into if the health and diet of future generation is important. They have formed women groups and registered them as common interest groups where they undertake activities geared at reclaiming food security which over the past few years has been deteriorating.

Climate change, diminishing soil fertility and poor crop husbandry among other issues have been attributed to food insecurity. According to FAO report on women and sustainable food security, women produce between 60 and 80 per cent of the food in most developing countries and are responsible for half of the world's food production, yet their key role as food producers and providers, and their critical contribution to household food security, is only recently becoming recognized.

Reversing the trend

Nguruman region has long been known for producing fresh vegetables for markets in the outskirts of Nairobi and other Asian vegetables for export. While men are busy venturing in to cash crop farming, women are on the other side ensuring that their families are food sufficient by planting food crops. Women have been seen planting traditional vegetables like cassava, sweet potato and arrow roots which are presumed to be the way forward towards attaining food sufficiency.

When asked where they got the information, Tenebo women group chairlady Mrs. Abu was bold enough to say… “Agricultural information is always available to us courtesy of Nguruman maarifa centre and the ministry of Agriculture extension officers”. The Maarifa centre and the ministry of Agriculture are on the fore front to promote traditional food crops due to their rich source of nutrients and adaptability to weather changes.

Women have reversed the normal trends of holding to large heads of cattle with no enough pasture to feed them throughout the year and are now keeping small stocks like poultry, rabbit, fish and dairy goats which are easy to manage and feed while producing enough food for their families and surplus for the market. One will only notice the marketing activities late in the afternoon when women and children start streaming to the market with bottles and gourds full of milk and others with donkeys loaded with small portions of agricultural produce.

Mama wamboi, a mother of three when asked why she decided to venture in to rabbit keeping, this is what she had to say… "I got interested in rabbit keeping since not many farmers are doing the business and there is a big market for the product. I then borrowed a book at the maarifa centre on backyard rabbit farming in the tropics which helped me to get more information on designing the house, breeding, nutrition, breeds and diseases".