First Lady’s Agric4She empowers Mash Central First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa tours successful poultry projects under Agric4she programme at Mrs Catherine Mahachi’s farm in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central province. – Pictures Innocent Makawa.

Blessings Chidakwa in Muzarabani

A PIT which was once a death trap in ward 11 Muzarabani district under Chief Chiweshe is now a thriving fishing pond benefitting several women engaging in life-changing projects courtesy of First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa.

Dr Mnangagwa, who is the patron for Agric4She, a women empowerment initiative, has transformed the lives of women who are doing fish farming, poultry, piggery and value addition of tobacco by producing snuff.

It was all inspiration for the women during a field day at Mrs Catherine Mahachi’s homestead in Muzarabani South where projects initiated by the First Lady are bearing fruit with women now being economically empowered.

Apart from the economic emancipation, the projects have also proved to be vital in helping to tackle some social ills such as early child marriages, dependency syndrome and idle gossip among women who are now spending most of their time occupied.

The piggery farming being carried out as a pass-on project and has since capacitated hundreds of women in Muzarabani. It was President Mnangagwa’s initiative launched sometime in 2021 to empower the rural communities.

Before touring the beneficial projects at Mrs Mahachi’s homestead, the First Lady first planted a naartjie tree of the clementine variety as part of the Government’s thrust for each household to have at least 10 fruit trees.

After the tour, Dr Mnangagwa engaged the women and took her precious time to exchange notes with them on economic empowerment. She also tackled social ills including encouraging decent dressing and eating healthy food.

As the motherly figure she is, Amai Mnangagwa also handed over 3 000 fingerlings and an assortment of farming inputs to the women to continue with their thriving businesses.

Addressing guests, Amai Mnangagwa said the thriving projects being undertaken by women had economically uplifted them and were also a clear testimony on the need to eat nutritious food. 

The First Lady said in terms of uplifting women, she was going to leave no one and no place behind, also urging the host farmer Mrs Mahachi to take a leaf from her by inspiring fellow women in the community. 

“It is important to always remember that no one should ever feel left behind and that you should collaborate with others in everything you do. 

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa appreciates  some of the products displayed by women in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central province.

“We have observed her fish farming and she has a variety of chickens. She also adds value to tobacco to create snuff, which is highly profitable. I am encouraging every other woman present here to follow her steps.

“Once you do that you will realise that even next month you will bring testimonies. I am sure you will be at a different level from what you are today,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa told the women that to succeed in the work of their hands, women need to programme their minds first before waking up so that they can have work plans that are profitable. 

“Whatever you touch with your hands must produce good results, do not just wake up without a purpose. We want people who work hard, not just to wake up and sit at home.

“If you die today, you must leave a legacy behind, we don’t want people who will be forgotten forever. The works of your hands must speak for themselves even the way you carry yourselves should be cherished even when you are gone,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa urged women to desist from living in oblivion. 

“If you are going to die today, you have to leave a legacy. The things you have created must speak for themselves, and even in death, the way you conduct yourself should be treasured,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa challenged all women to join Agric4She programmes which have already proven to be life changing for the better.

“This is where we teach others and also host field days like the one led by Mrs Mahachi. As a fellow woman one should be motivated to host similar ones at her homestead.

“Women have now ventured into wheat farming which was once perceived a male dominated field but are actually equally competing.

“Under Agric4She we challenged the norm and our women ventured and they contributed 40 percent of wheat came from them, a figure which can be surpassed if all women join as women have proved to do things better,” she said.

The First Lady said just like fellow women she is a mother, grandmother, aunt who is self motivated, results oriented always thriving for the best daily.

“The projects being done by Mai Catherine Mahachi, including poultry, piggery, tobacco and fish farming shows that women can play a pivotal role in economic building for the nation.

“There are also some areas that have been hit hard by drought and as fellow women make sure you play a part in assisting them and the Lord will bless you,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa said farming is a business if pursued well as it also complements the Vision 2030 by the President.

Dr Mnangagwa challenged women to have etiquette including dressing appropriately such that youths can emulate them instead of being wayward.

She also sternly warned against child marriages, saying the issue of blaming religious sects should be stopped as the full wrath of the law will take its course.

“We don’t want churches that contrast with the laws of the land. Women speak up when there is abuse not keeping quiet because a bishop or prophet has said this.

“A child always listens to what the mother says so be exemplary and respected. A woman who gossips is usually associated with promiscuity and witchcraft,” she said.

The host farmer, Mrs Catherine Mahachi thanked Dr Mnangagwa for the excellent work she is doing to women through the Agri4She program.

“When l built my house using farm bricks there was an open pit that was now posing danger to both humans and animals. While watching Amai on television l then decided to convert the dumpsite and venture into fish farming.

“When I started l had 3 000 fingerlings but today l have also opened another pond at the back of my pigsty as part of environmental consciousness. I feed the fingerlings with waste from pigs which is very nutritious,” she said.

Mrs Mahachi said was inspired by watching Amai Mnangagwa on television and emulating her work, which has enabled them to find economic independence.

“We emulate Amai’s wonderful works and if you look here, I now have road runner chickens but we initially started with broilers. 

“We then later realized that our First Lady is encouraging us to eat traditional foods so we decided to venture into the road runner project and the proceeds from these endeavors have allowed me to send my children to school.

“We have also started a pig-raising project, which is passed on from one person to another once the first has completed the breeding cycle. So far I passed on the pigs to four other people in my ward, and they are now able to send their children to school through this project,” she said.

Mrs Mahachi said last year, they also grew maize through the Agri4She programme, and with the proceeds, she managed to buy a machine for cooking fried chips and has since opened a canteen. 

“All of these things have changed my life for the better. I am more than grateful to the teachings of the First Lady,” she said.

Farming equipment, fertilisers, knapsacks, fingerlings among several others handed over by the First Lady to women in Mashonaland Province to support their projects.

Mrs Mahachi said the First Lady also encouraged them to grow tobacco, which they are able to value-add into snuff. 

“We are able to dry and grind the tobacco using a stone grinder with minimal labor. We can sell a small pack of snuff for two dollars, and if you sell six thousand packs, you would have made a large sum of money. 

“This is truly a wonderful project and I managed to build a house in Harare. In all my years, I have never seen such empowering initiatives for women. 

“The First Lady is doing us wonders, I think since 1980 we have never had someone like her and never seen women empowerment of this magnitude,” she said.

A beneficiary of the First Lady’s empowering programmes Mrs Shelly Tauro who is into tobacco value addition was loss of words due to the empowerment she got.

“Together with other women we were taught how to do value addition on tobacco producing snuff which is actually paying more compared to selling our raw tobacco at auction floors.

“We are grateful to the teachings by our First Lady that each woman should learn to work using own hands and avoid being dependent on our husbands for some bread and butter issues. As for me I am actually helping in paying school fees and groceries,” she said. 

 Another beneficiary, Ms Plaxedes Kawundura said she started as a maid, but now into piggery and chicken rearing all thanks to the Agric4She programme by the First Lady.

“I am grateful to Amai Mnangagwa for encouraging us to use our own hands and work towards our goals without solely relying on man. I don’t have a husband but I am rearing goats and road runner chickens,” she said.

Mashonaland Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Christopher Magomo applauded gratitude to Amai Mnangagwa for always taking her precious time to interact with people from the province on various issues.

“Agric4She has been initiated some time ago but our First Lady is not losing sleep following up on the projects. Last time she was in Mbire making sure no place and no one is left behind,” he said.

“Also our Amai Mnangagwa is spearheading various programmes apart from Agric4She including tackling social ills such as drug abuse, immorality, early child marriages,” he said.

Minister Magomo said what touches the heart most is the passion for the First Lady to assist vulnerable communities.

“Your love, compassion to see the empowerment of the disadvantaged groups in our society is second to none and knows no boundary.

“Through the Angel of Hope Foundation we have witnessed your unwavering commitment to uplifting the disadvantaged people. Indeed your programmes are living no place and no one behind reaching even the most remote and marginalised areas,” he said. 

Muzarabani South legislator also Local Government and Public Works Deputy Benjamin Kabikira thanked Amai, for bringing Agric4She program to Muzarabani. 

“This programme is helping to achieve President Mnangagwa’s vision of achieving an upper middle income by 2030. We cannot talk about prosperity in this country without mentioning the role that women play. 

“Your Agric4She program is promoting value addition, and we want to thank you, Amai. We would love to see more women join your program,” he said.

Deputy Minister Kabikira also thanked Amai for tackling social issues.

“You also emphasized the importance of good behavior, and you explained very well that everyone must practice good behavior, regardless of their gender. We are also grateful to the First Lady for extending this programme to men and boys. We want to thank Amai for giving our youths fish.

“It is wonderful that you have not segregated men from this programme. She did not come here empty handed. If you look to my left, you can see the many items she has donated to the women here. Thank you for your generosity,” he said.

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