Western Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Mukwambuyu Katungu has urged the Cashew Nut Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) implementers to scale up women participation in the project.
Mr Katungu said the project is currently at 30 percent of the projected 50 percent of women and youth beneficiaries from the 60,000 cashew smallholder farmers.
The CIDP targets to empower 60,000 smallholder farmers of which 30,000 (50%) should be women and 7,000 youths each planting 100 cashew trees as well as other jobs along the cashew value chain.
Mr Katungu said this in a speech read by Senior Provincial Planner Nawa Saela during the stakeholders meeting backstopping on gender mainstreaming in the CIDP held in Limulunga.
And District Commissioner Maurice Litula pledged to continue providing oversight in prioritizing women farmers in CIDP to actualize the 50% target in line with the national gender policy of 2014.
“Let me state that when you empower a woman, you empower the whole household. There are women who have established vibrant cashew fields despite the challenges and should be recognised and appreciated,” he said.
Currently, Limulunga has 64.7% of male beneficiaries, male youth beneficiaries at 66.6% and 35.3 % women beneficiaries thus showing a gap on the inclusion of women in the project.
And Lungowe Lubasi of Namitome area is one woman out of the 60,000 intended beneficiaries in Limulunga District who started farming in 2017 but due to poor rainfall most of her seedlings dried up.
“I first planted cashew nut in 2017 but due to poor rainfall most of the trees withered but she replanted in 2019 thanks to ETG which distributed other plants. Women should take up cashew farming,” she said.
Ms Lubasi urged other women to take up cashew nut planting noting that there is huge longtime economic benefit after 3- 5 years when the trees start producing because it is a high value crop.
Meanwhile, CIDP Gender Specialist Ngula Mubonda said gender mainstreaming is key to realizing the CIDP project impact of improved household impact.
She said women are being targeted because women have a higher propensity to maintain a household unit as well as break the circle of poverty when they are financially stable.
The Gender Specialist also disclosed that the project has been helping women acquire land in Mongu, Nalolo, Sikongo and Limulunga Districts.