Midlands welcomes First Lady’s farming projects Agric4She patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa applies manure as she leads women in planting maize seeds in Zhombe yesterday. - Pictures: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa in ZHOMBE

Newly-appointed Agric4She patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa arrived to a thunderous welcome by thousands of women in the Midlands Province yesterday as she launched her drive to empower women through farming projects, including poultry rearing.

The Agric4She programme will be taken to all the country’s 10 provinces as the First Lady aims at ensuring that women are actively involved in farming countrywide.

Midlands Province was her second stop after the initial launch in Harare a few days ago.

The colourful programme was befittingly launched at a Pfumvudza demonstration plot, showing Dr Mnangagwa’s zeal to ensure beneficiaries achieved high yields to boost livelihoods.

She led the women in planting maize seed on the plot for the benefit of the community.

Inputs distributed by Amai Mnangagwa under the programme yesterday included 40 tonnes compound D fertiliser, 30 tonnes Ammonium Nitrate, 25 tonnes maize seed, 15 tonnes sorghum, 25 tonnes sunflower and a chemical called Demise for armyworm control.

In her remarks, Dr Mnangagwa said she felt encouraged by the women who turned up in huge numbers for the project launch.

“I am happy that you have come in your numbers madzimai. This post of being Agric4She patron was given to me by the Ministry of Agriculture and I gladly accepted because I know that as women we are hard workers,” she said.

“Vanamai, here is an opportunity to end gossip and sitting idly. I have come to give you dignity and mould you into respectable hard working women who shun gossiping. Working together brings about unity, friendliness and the ability to assist each other in times of challenges.

“Agric4She has brought a lot, let’s embrace the programme. No one should be left behind. My programmes are all-encompassing. I invite the elderly and the newly-married. To ladies of the night, I urge you to quit the oldest profession so that we earn clean money.

“My sons, let us shun drugs like mutoriro (crystal meth) and spend time in our plots with our mothers using our hands and staying away from mischief.”

Women plant maize during First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s second Agric4She programme in Zhombe yesterday

The First Lady said she was honoured to launch the Agric4She Programme alongside the donation of broiler day old chicks for vulnerable groups to kickstart a poultry project.

She told the gathering how the chicken rearing programme was born.

“I hosted a fundraising dinner with my Angel of Hope Foundation Partners seeking help to get something to give the less fortunate countrywide.

“Gain Cash and Carry came aboard among other partners which gave birth to this broiler chicks project. But madzimai when you get money through this project, please stop behaving like cocks, telling your spouses what to do. Let’s remain submissive to our husbands, we do not want violence in the homes,” she said.

As the name suggests, Dr Mnangagwa said, the Agric4She Programme was targeted towards the empowerment of women through agriculture.

“The programme is in partnership with our development partner, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and will include the provision of agricultural land, inputs and skills training to enhance agricultural production through a targeted approach,” the First Lady said.

“It is thus a deliberate strategy to target the women as they constitute the majority in our population and also they are the anchors of our families and nation at large. This without doubt will contribute immensely to domestic and national food security.”

Women participation in agriculture, she said, will ensure that agriculture plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic agenda and the eventual achievement of Vision 2030.

“The programme is also a deliberate attempt to make our women productive citizens of this nation. It aims to take away women from various social vices that are non-productive and at worst uncultural hence tearing the moral fabric of our communities,” she said.

“I would like, therefore, to urge women and their children, boys and girls, here present to embrace these programmes with the seriousness that they deserve so that they become respectable breadwinners to their families as well as dependable economic development contributors for the whole nation.

“An era for loafing, redundancy, rumourmongering has passed, now is the time to engage our minds and our hands to feed our families. No more standing in the streets selling our bodies to men and I also say no to spending nights in bars and clubs practising the old age profession of prostitution.”

Angel of Hope founder and patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over day old chicks to youths in Zhombe yesterday

Dr Mnangagwa enjoined the community to till the soil to contribute to national economic development and make sure that Vision 2030 was attainable.

“In pursuit of this endeavour, no one will be left behind, hence my approach to target you our women who are vulnerable and marginalised. Similarly our youths must also jump onto the ship through various projects including poultry production,” she said.

The First Lady said it was her wish for women and youths to preoccupy themselves with income-generating initiatives and shun alcoholism and drug abuse which were destroying the future generation.

“Wherever I am going I am hearing that children are ruined by mutoriro and guka and that as mothers we are preparing this poison in homes. Why are we doing this? My children, is mutoriro any helpful?” she said.

In response, Michael Maporisa, a drug abuse survivor, said he almost died because of drugs.

“Mutoriro is harmful and children are ruined. Amai, I even tried it and almost died. I quit this and vowed never to do that. I urge my fellow youths to desist from abusing drugs and substances,” he said.

The First Lady implored the children to stop taking drugs and parents to help children follow the correct path.

Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Larry Mavima thanked the First Lady for her constructive and productive programmes.

“We want to thank you for this programme Amai and seeing it fit to come up with development programmes of this nature.

“In this vein, we thank you for leading Agric4She programme because women mostly work in the fields raising the family. We hope to harvest plenty. As Midlands Province we are fully behind you as women work hard,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by Permanent secretary in his office Mr Abiot Marongwe.

Chief Weight Gwesela from Zhombe-Joel said he was overjoyed by the First Lady’s drive towards women empowerment.

“I thank you for empowering women. Women here are hardworking and we promise you that this province will be number one on this Agric4She project. You are a loving and caring mother. As traditional chiefs, we are fully behind you,” he said.

Beneficiaries of the programme were equally ecstatic.

Agric4She patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over farming inputs to women in Zhombe yesterday

Mrs Marry Moyo praised the First Lady for her mission to empower the women in her home area.

“Amai we thank you for coming to Zhombe,” she said.

“You have brought transformation to our area and your visit we assure you that we will never hunger. We are saying no to laziness. You have taught us that we should farm for our families to become food self-sufficient.

“This will make our husbands not stray as we will be helping them around the home and begging less. We thank you for teaching us in our lives. You have taught us that farming is beneficial, especially the Pfumvudza concept.

“This is not your first visit here, you taught us a lot and did a lot of good things for our community. You taught us as women to be regularly screened for cancer free of charge.”

One of the villagers, Mrs Susan Mtondi broke into the song “Ndimai Vanogona Kurongaronga” whipping the villagers into a frenzy as they danced and ululated.

“We thank you heartily and we feel delighted for this programme which you have brought. This is good gossip and no one can enter someone’s house to gossip as we are now fully occupied.

“Weeds will be waiting for you in the fields, if you feel like visiting someone, just rise and pluck off the weeds, play with the soil and Amai we are proud of you semadzimai,” she said.

Traditional chiefs and all community members who attended the event received bags of mealie-meal from the First Lady through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

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