The Sunday Mail
FIRST Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Agric4She programme is transforming lives across the country, with women from Mashonaland Central who participated in the Cotton4She programme already enjoying the benefits.
It was all joy as scores of people converged in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, to mark the belated International Women’s Day celebrations at Kakora village in Chief Negomo’s area.
As part of her quest to leave no one and no place behind in empowering women with life skills and promoting their participation in agricultural production, Amai Mnangagwa honoured outstanding cotton farmers in the province.
Attendees also went home smiling after receiving food hampers.
It was indeed a colourful event, with bikers, who were led by a woman, having showcased their talents, while gospel musician Dorcas Moyo delivered a polished act.
Addressing the large crowd, Dr Mnangagwa underscored the need to economically empower women.
The First Lady said, having traversed the country due to her work with the Angel of Hope Foundation, she was humbled by women’s thirst for empowerment.
“I am delighted to note that these women are more enlightened than most of us assume. The ignorant and passive rural woman belongs to the past. The women that you see today are goal-driven, relentless, powerful and full of endless potential,” she said.
The First Lady said cotton is among the country’s highest foreign currency earners, a factor attributable to rural women who are working tirelessly to produce the white gold.
“I understand that 60 percent of cotton farmers are women, with over 360 000 women farmers in the 2022/223 season. This shows that the market is firmly in the hands of women and its success largely depends on the female effort,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa lauded Cottco for organising the event, which sought to celebrate the importance of women in growing cotton.
“International Women’s Day is not only a celebration of women, but also a continued effort in ensuring that women are seen as equals and not as items of little to no value. This month is awash with women from different spheres of life celebrating their successes and acknowledging each other but what is most profound for me is that a constituency that is close to my heart and, unfortunately, seldom remembered, is here getting the recognition that it deserves,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa said cotton farming is not child’s play.
“It takes a lot of dedication and hard work that most people, men included, would struggle with, but rural women do it effortlessly year-in, year-out. It is in this regard that I salute you, my fellow women. Your strength and tenacity is admirable,” she said.
The First Lady said rural women deserve to get more benefits from beneficiation of cotton.
“Rural women anchor the whole cotton value chain yet most of them are oblivious of the end products. I am happy that Cottco is now making efforts through its value addition initiatives to bring cotton products to the farmers’ door steps.”
She said the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day commemorations, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”, is befitting as technology has become indispensable to society.
Amai Mnangagwa also applauded Cottco for introducing smart farmers who will operate at full throttle beginning this year.
“As technological initiatives continue to be rolled out, let us involve our rural folk, particularly women. Technology should benefit all of us and bring positive transformation to our lives.
“Allow me to also commend Government for the launch of ZimSat-1, which will enable Government to monitor land use and land cover, soil fertility, water quality, identifying crop health or calculating soil adjusted vegetation index, cultivated area and leaf chlorophyll…” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa lauded her husband, His Excellency President Mnangagwa, for initiating Cotton Pfumvudza.
“I would like to thank the President, his Excellency Dr E.D. Mnangagwa, for availing inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme, which has seen an increase in the number of cotton farmers participating in the climate-proofed cotton production programme (the Cotton Pfumvudza / Intwasa programme).
“Through this programme, no one and no place has been left behind and women have been financially empowered and are now able to improve their livelihoods,” she said.
The First Lady said no woman should be left behind under her Agric4She programme, which strives to transform and promote livelihoods of all rural women.
Dr Mnangagwa said she has been to Shamva, and after Chiweshe, she will be going around the country to ensure that no woman who plays a part in growing cotton is left behind.
Previously, there have been reports of delays in payment of cotton farmers.
However, Amai Mnangagwa said when farmers work they expect to be paid.
She urged Cottco to fulfill its obligations to pay on time.
The First Lady applauded the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development for championing rural development.
“It is this agricultural transformation, with cotton production being at the epicentre of the crop growth matrix, which will surely lead to rural industrialisation.
“This cotton-driven rural industrialisation will lead to rural development which in itself is a pathway to the accelerated attainment of vision 2030,” she said.
A beneficiary of the First Lady’s Cotton4She programme in Muzarabani, Mrs Sekai Chirandura thanked Dr Mnangagwa for empowering women.
“I am at a loss of words for the support rendered by Amai Mnangagwa. Since l started cotton farming last year l am now leading a dignified life, paying school fees for my children and buying enough for the family,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Marian Muronga from Mazowe, said Cottco4She was a game changer.
“My life has started transforming since I joined Cottco4She. I am now able to buy sufficient basic commodities for home, which l could not do in the past,” she said.
Mrs Lydia Gatsi, who also benefited, thanked Dr Mnangagwa for introducing the initiative.
“I was given free inputs and through farming teachings from Amai Mnangagwa the journey has been easy. I started with a small piece of land but next season I intend to increase my hectares,” she said.
Women in Cotton Development Trust representative Mrs Patience Zhakata applauded Dr Mnangagwa.
“Amai Mnangagwa is uplifting us by urging us to work with our own hands. She handed over 30 sewing machines to women so that when its off cotton season, they will be sewing. We cannot ask for more from Amai because she exceeds our expectations,” she said.
Cottco board member Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi saluted Amai Mnangagwa for travelling across the country to empower women through Pfumvudza.
“The First Lady is empowering women across the cotton value chain from the field up to production. She empowered women to do cotton farming and also sourced sewing machines for them,” she said.
“Through the vision of Amai Mnangagwa women can improve the economy just like their male counterparts.”
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, who was honoured as the best-performing minister last week, said the First Lady had also contributed to his success.
He also thanked the President for spearheading Pfumvudza.