On the 13th the Land Desk Coordinator in the Justice and Peace Commission had a meeting with Mam Sizani Ngubane, the Director of the Rural Women’s Movement.  The aim of the meeting on the side of the Land Desk was to find information relating to the RWM’s vision and strategies regarding food production.   The meeting started with a discussion on a picture of how RWM would look like in 2020 in relation to food production projects.  Mam Sizani shared a very important piece of background about RWM.  She looked back at the original RWM’s approach as a purely human rights movement for women in rural areas.  Its advocacy was aimed at promoting awareness of rural women of their rights in relation to land, inheritance and other patriarchal practices that placed women in a vulnerable position.

In 2011 as RWM was going about its work in Thukela District Municipality area, it received reports that 11 women had died, and the cause of their death, – in the final analysis-, was hunger.  All the 11 were women who were on ARVs, but did not have food to eat, and had to either face the prospect of taking their treatment on empty stomachs or simply default.  Either choice meant death.  They eventually died.  This was tragic, but was also a turning point in the movements’ strategy.  Instead of mobilising hungry women for rights, the priority became that of addressing hunger.  It was resolved by the movement that forthwith, the main focus was going to be to mobilise women to produce food for their families so that no woman should ever succumb to death for lack of food.

In 2012 and 2013, no further deaths occurred in the areas where RWM was organising.  The goal of preventing deaths as a result of lack of food among the HIV infected women was clearly achieved. The next step is to create viable income generating agricultural activities.  This is why in 2020, Rural Women’s Movement would like to see women becoming commercial agricultural producers competing successfully for their share in the market, supplying 10% of the currently available market in the 3 Municipal Districts in KwaZulu Natal, Uthukela, Ugu and Sisonke.  To achieve this, the strategy will be to provide training to women, and identify extension officers among the, whose task will be to visit producers and troubleshoot problems that might arise, thus supporting high quality production and constant supplies.

On the 14th January, the Land Desk Coordinator with Mam Sizani visited 2 projects at the Sisonke District Municipality in the area of aMadwaleni, and looked at the communal garden with sweet potatoes, potatoes, maize, beans and butternuts.  Potatoes were ready for harvesting but were left on the ground as there was no market for them.  Members reported that their problem was finding the markets for their produce.

The way forward for this group was that they were going to meet and select two women among them to approach Spar at Underberg to start the negotiations for a possible quota to supply potatoes.  Mam Sizani informed the members that she had created a pool of young people trained in public relations, who could be made available to the project on request.

By Philani