Empowering women is a major part of making all of NCBA CLUSA’s projects sustainable. Whether encouraging women to become lead farmers, take on a leadership role in their community, apply for land titles and learn business skills or empowering them with the knowledge to raise healthy children, women are the key to building resilient communities. NCBA CLUSA focuses on providing women access to finance, training, literacy and numeracy in order to impact their ability to do business, raise healthy families and be agricultural as well as community leaders.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, NCBA CLUSA is highlighting some of the strong women who are changing their communities with support from our projects.
Women like Agustina Pinto, who are innovating the vanilla industry in Timor L‘este. Pinto is the first person in her country to grow vanilla bean seedlings, a laborious but lucrative crop. The seedlings take 7 to 8 months of care but are sold at $150 per kilo. After raising the seedlings she will distribute them through NCBA CLUSA’s USDA-funded Agriculture Diversification Project to 300 farmers in the local co-op Cooperative Café Timor (CCT) to help diversify the crops for the eastern regions of the country that cannot grow coffee.
Pinto built her nursery and shade structure from scratch and is one of the most productive seedling growers in the region. Before her nursery business, she was barely making ends meet with a couple fruit trees across the street from her family home.
Women like Hapsatou in Senegal who are teaching their communities proper nutrition, but are also creating strong businesses by providing their communities access to products they need. As a community-based solution provider (CBSP) for NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Yaajeende project, Hapsatou now makes $42,000 USD a year brokering deals for improved seed and nutrition solutions, an incredible success in an area where the average annual income is $1,200. But she’s not simply making an income—she’s also opening supply lines into her hard-to-reach rural village.
“I can make money with these activities, but that’s not what’s really important. What the community gains from the work is much more important,” Hapsatou said. She is one of 300 CBSPs in Senegal helping to bring much needed agricultural inputs and nutritional training to their villages.
Women like Cristina Pulseira in Mozambique who are teaching their neighbors how to implement conservation agriculture techniques that increase their yields. Cristina is a lead farmer with NCBA CLUSA’s Government of Norway funded PROMAC project who has convinced 23 of her neighboring farmers to adopt new techniques that include mulching, crop rotation and not disturbing the soil. These simple changes mean Cristina and her neighbors are seeing their yields increase 500 percent in some cases. Last year, she harvested 300 pounds of maize compared to her same size traditional plots, where she only got 66 pounds. These demo plots are convincing her neighbors to try the techniques as well.
“I try to bring as many people here as possible to show the difference,” Cristina said. PROMAC’s lead farmers have helped to train over 30,000 people in conservation agriculture, almost two thirds of whom are women. Using the extra profits from her harvest, Cristina bought cement to finish the roof on her house, benefitting her entire family.
Women like Sonia Gomez in Guatemala who never miss a mother-to-mother meeting and get up extra early to make sure everything is ready in time. Through the mother-to-mother meetings under the USAID-funded Cooperative Development Project, NCBA CLUSA is encouraging women to participate in their communities’ development. The mothers are learning how to prevent malnutrition for their children, initiating peer-to-peer discussions and encouraging healthy decision-making.
“When I come back to the house, I teach my family everything I have learned,” Sonia said.
Women like Amina Wahab in Niger who are turning barren lands into gardens through their women’s associations and training from NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded REGIS-ER project. With support from NCBA CLUSA, Amina’s women’s association convinced the local chief to loan their group some land. The women rehabilitated the land using bio-reclamation of degraded land (BDL) techniques like growing drought tolerant crops, creating ways to retain water and increasing the soil fertility. Now they grow nutritious crops for their families and even have excess to sell. Yields from their garden have been almost double the average for the region. While the site was named “gona mata” or “women’s parcel,” many men came to support their wives and sisters creating an exchange space for men and women, not typical in such a gendered society.
Women like these across the world are improving their own lives, the lives of their families and their communities through the knowledge, training and support they are receiving from NCBA CLUSA projects.