Women’s hard work bears fruit

A group of women in the arid Bikita district has turned a barren piece of land into a flourishing vegetable garden, bringing life and hope to the area.

Yulina Mutingwende, a 58-year-old woman from Banga village in Bikita approached Headman Mutoma Ndonde to ask for permission to till a 10-hectare piece of land that had lain idle for a long time.

The headman accepted her request and with nine other women, Mrs. Mutingwende began to dig up the area and fenced it with tree branches and thorns to transform it into a vegetable garden. They named their enterprise the Fushayi Project.

The group enlisted the services of Pedzisai Masango who dug two wells in the garden.

“Realising that the garden would be burdensome for our families to till alone, we invited other families to join us for a fee of $5 each. The response to our invitation was overwhelming and 40 other families joined us, bringing the number of families to 50,” said Mutingwende in a recent interview.

“We divided the land into neat seedbeds, shared among ourselves. We began to grow carrots, onions, rape and cabbages which we sell to people at the market. Some villagers visit our garden to buy vegetables and we are making good money from our daily sales. The problem of cracking our heads for relish is long forgotten since no one goes to Birchenough Bridge to buy cabbages as was the case before our garden,” she said.

The women are grateful to Agricultural Extension Services advisors for providing fertilizers and vegetable seeds.

“Most importantly we want to thank Care International Zimbabwe for donating a fence and a borehole to our garden,” said Mutingwende.

Besides the vegetable garden project, Fushayi has started a local savings scheme whereby members contribute $10 monthly subscriptions. The money is used to buy kitchen utensils on a three-month rotational basis.

The members’ kitchens are now fully furnished, thanks to the savings scheme.

“My life is now better. Since, I was widowed in 2003, I led a miserable life failing to buy food for my children, let alone send them to school. Ever since joining the Fushayi Project, poverty is now an unwelcome visitor in my family. I can now eat whatever I want and my eldest son has rejoined his peers at school where he is now in his Second Form at Mandadzaka Secondary School,” said Ambuya Madhuve of Banga Village.

The group has also built two fowl runs and a pig sty with the aim of starting poultry and piggery projects.

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