Tag Archives: Women Farmers

Gardening Made Easy

For quick food around the home, Rizaeli Samweli, a Champion Farmer in Mwembe village in Kilimanjaro region, got creative and set up a vegetable kitchen garden in front of her house. These usually come in handy for people living in apartments who lack the necessary land to grow crops. They hang pots from the roofs; make use of the balcony and whatever available space they can pack a pot.

However, it wasn’t for lack of land that Rizaeli planted spinach in a sack. Rather, it was for convenience. She wanted something close enough from which she could pluck vegetables for a quick meal in her home.

How did she do this?

All she needed was a sack, a mixture of fertile soil, sand and farmyard manure, gravel, a bucket and a big strong stick/pole.

For measurements, she mixed one bag of soil, half a bag of sand and quarter of manure. She fixed the strong pole in the ground, cut the sack at the bottom to create two gaping holes, and dressed the pole. Using a small bucket, also open at both ends, she placed it inside the sack to straddle the pole. Once the bucket was at the bottom of the sack, she filled it with gravel on the inside and the sand, soil and manure mixture on the outside. She then lifted the bucket out and repeated the process of filling gravel in the middle and the soil-sand-manure mixture on the outside. Once the sack was full, the pole was able to hold it in place.

Thereafter, she poked holes in the side of the sack and placed transplanted seedlings through the holes and into the soil on the side of the sack.

Rizaeli prepared this garden in May this year by planting spinach (locally known as sukuma wiki) and has already harvested three times. She intends to keep the garden for another eight months.


Rizaeli (in green) showing some farmers and GWI EA staff her garden

“The beauty about this garden is that it requires very little maintenance,” she says. “For water, I ask the children to wash their faces over the sack in the morning and their hands before meal times.”

This little water is all the garden needs to survive. Due to the gravel, there is very little weeding required.

Elizabeth Agiro
GWI EA, Uganda


Shallow Wells for Household Irrigation

Using Shallow Wells for Household Irrigation Changes the Lives of Women Farmers:

The Case of Muchit, Champion Farmer in Dera


Life is harder for women farmers and we are always lagging behind male farmers. But, my eyes are now opened to the possibilities that lie ahead”, says Muchit, a 37 year old single mother of three. Muchit is determined to change her family’s living conditions through improved use of water for agriculture.

The farmer, who lives in Munaya village of Korata Kebele, in Dera district, has 1.5 hectares of farm land. Some of it is adjacent to the Gumera stream. She rents a motor pump from a neighbouring farmer to irrigate her farm. Muchit relies on rainfall to grow rough pea, teff, finger millet and maize. She grows potatoes and onions using irrigation. Muchit is now shifting to growing crops that have high market value. This year, she has planted rice, understanding that demand for it is high and it fetches a higher price. In her backyard Muchit has planted coffee, gesho (a tree whose leaves are used in making traditional brew) and various fruit trees.

MuchitMuchit’s children, 17, 13 and 11 years old, two of them boys and the youngest a girl, help out on the farm when they are not at school. Since it is taboo for women to plow the land using oxen, Muchit relies on her male relatives to do the plowing for her in a labour exchange arrangement. On her farm land, she does the seeding, preparation of irrigation canals and furrows, as well as harvesting and selling the harvest in the nearest town, Hamusit.

Muchit says the different meetings and discussions she has attended in her village have helped open her eyes to the possibility of changing her life using better agriculture water management practices.

“There is a stream next to my farm land but I have never used it. I want to start using it in order to improve the lives of my children. I want to improve my own life. After seeing what other farmers are doing my eyes are now open,” says Muchit.

Muchit has to fetch and transport on her back water from a village well for the crops in her backyard.


“We’ve been told the GWI program is here for five years. I expect support from the program to buy my own motor pump, instead of renting and borrowing from others. If I get a hand dug well for irrigation in my back yard, I believe I will be able to cover fully our household food needs. If I find water nearby, I can plant all kinds of vegetables in my back yard. What I need is support in digging a well,” Muchit says.

Muchit earned 1,200 birr (about 60 USD) last year from her coffee. She sells the gesho leaves for up to 100 birr (about 5 USD) every month. She earns 4,200 birr (215 USD) per year from rough pea. She uses the Teff, Sorghum and Finger Millet she grows for household consumption. Muchit estimates a total income of 6,600 birr (about 340 USD) annually from her produce. Of this, she spends about 2490 birr (about 128 USD) on fertilizers, herbicides and seeds.

Muchit says that life is especially tough for women farmers; that they don’t find enough time to work on their farms as the men do.

“Life is much harder for women farmers. Unlike the men, we cannot water our farms at night,. And on top of working on the farm all day, it’s the woman’s responsibility to look after the livestock and water the crops in the backyard in addition to all the house chores,” Muchit says.

Bethel Terefe

GWI East Africa, Ethiopia