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Women & Agriculture Subsidies

It is not a strange story in most Malawian communities that government Policies do not always address the challenges of small scale farmers.

Mrs. Edina Chanza, a married woman with four children is one of the small holder farmers in Mwingitsa Village in Malawi. She owns a piece of land (4 acres) which she inherited from her parents. It is a family land and it has been shared trough more than seven generations. The land she owns now will be expected to be shared to her own children as well when they get married.

Their land is their only means of livelihood. They depend on the land for food and all their needs are acquired after selling what they produce from that field.

Mrs. Chanza participated in Focus Group Discussion conducted in the village to discussing climate change challenges that are affecting the community as one of the pre consultative processes before the Rio+20 Conference.
In the discussions she explained that as a woman small holder farmer, the main challenge she faces is that her farm is much degraded and she doesn’t produce enough food for her family.

The soil is too eroded and without fertilizer she can’t harvest anything. The land is also on and uphill as such she only relies in rain fed farming.

“I do not qualify for government subsidised fertiliser because they say I am not amongst the communities poorest people”. But although this case her family of six relies on their four acre farm land as their only source of food and income.

Her land is too small to produce enough food for her family and she also sells some of the food to buy some basic necessities.

In this case even if she could benefit from the subsidised fertilizer it will still not improve her livelihood. Because having more maize alone neither improves her nutrition not her economic status.

“What I would like to have is money for clothes, to pay school fees and medical bills” She explains.

In this scenario you could very well see how these small scale farmers are left within the poverty circle. Because even though they can produce more food, they will still sell it at a low profit to local merchants who will make more profits than them. Because they have poor nutrition their children are still at risk of many diseases. And because they cannot afford to send their children to school, their children will still be trapped in the village and lead the life their parents are living.

Governments need to look at a holistic approach to food security and implement projects that will empower these communities to move out of poverty.

They need to promote agribusinesses, education and community ownership of programs and self reliance.


In partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), World Pulse is collecting personal stories outlining women’s experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development for presentation at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

All stories submitted on our community platform between now and June 3, 2012 will be presented at the Rio+20 Conference. Additionally, selected entries will be published in World Pulse’s digital magazine and distributed widely to international media partners. Learn how YOUR voice can be included!



jadefrank's picture

Taking your voice to Rio+20!

Dear Takondwa,

Edina Chanza

Thank you for participating in our Rio+20 initiative and courageously sharing your voice. The story of Edina Chanza and so many women like her need to be heard by decision makers. Your voices will be represented as your story and recommendations are en route to Rio de Janeiro with our partners at WEDO, and will be presented at the conference to ensure grassroots women's perspectives are included at the negotiating table. Our editorial team is working on an E-magazine for publication next Wednesday which you will receive in your inbox, highlighting selected pieces from our Rio+20 initiative. We will keep you updated on the outcomes of the conference and how you can stay involved as a vocal leader for your community on these issues.

I encourage you to read the stories of your fellow PulseWire sisters and engage in conversation to share experiences, ideas, and best practices for addressing sustainable development issues in your communities.

In friendship and solidarity,

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