Gender Equality - A woman’s worth
Veronica Makongoro is a FFS group facilitator, and like many female participants in the Fields to Families project, says that her position within the family and the community has changed for the better as a result. In 2012 Veronica joined an FFS group that provided training for improved horticultural practices, and encouraged members to start vegetable gardens of their own. Before joining the group, Veronica did not think that she could run a garden of her own, but with the support of group members she has done just that.
“In the past I couldn’t imagine myself taking part in horticultural production as I saw this as very hard work, better suited to men. Receiving education on vegetable gardening and practical planting in the FFS group has opened up my mind to what I can do.’’
When Veronica first started her garden it was very small. In time her plot has grown, and so have her profits. She is able to get good prices for her produce thanks to the business training she took part in through her FFS group, and focusing on vegetables instead of cash crops such as cotton has actually increased her profits. Veronica is able to market her vegetables to neighbors and in nearby villages, where the demand is high. Growing cotton required expensive inputs, high amounts of labor and was often sold to unscrupulous traders. The profitability of this enterprise was in question. With horticultural production, on the other hand, Veronica earned USD $200 from her first sale of cabbage. She is now planning to expand production on more of her land and increase her investment in this enterprise. The FFS group model has had an important impact on community food security. With families planting more diverse crops and applying improved agronomic practices, yields have increased. The inclusion of vegetables in all households means households can now access a variety of vegetables that were previously only available seasonally. Now, many FFS members can obtain vegetables year-round from their own gardens and sell them to other community members. This has positively impacted the amount of food available as well as household nutrition.
Veronica: “A lot has changed in my life as a result of this education and technical knowhow. I rarely ask my husband for money, and my children’s lives have improved as well, from the way that they appear at school, to the food that they eat at home. Now I know what I am capable of, that I can help my family have a better life. Being in an FFS group has been a wonderful experience.”