RWA South Africa: RWA sisters attend Feminist Agroecology School in Zambia

The Rural Women’s Assembly had a feminist Agroecology School  in a village called Kasisi, Zambia. The sisters arrived on the 10th September 2023 until 16 September 2023 from their countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar, Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho and Kenya sisters who joined the Rural Women’s Assembly for the first time for an exchange visit. Rural Women’s Assembly introduced the first feminist Agroecology school opportunity to women so that they can be in control of farming and production.  Feminist Agroecology school promotes independence to women because women are the ones that work the land to feed their families through hard work that they put in the garden. Working soil can be labor intensive however, women use farm exchange visits in order to ease the labor of working the soil. Farm visits can be done at a local level up to country-to-country because women believe in uniting each other through farming.

Kasisi Agroecology school in Zambia was founded by Mr. Paul Musole in 1974 who took over from his father after he passed away. The land used to be owned by the Catholic church and the land was used for the green revolution and unfortunately it never worked for the people in the village. He then decided to learn more about Agroecology and started building a school for Agroecology in Kasisi village. In 1990 he started to make experience and transition in organic farming and it assisted a lot of farmers. The school focused on practical training and demonstrations also saving indigenous seeds for farmers. Rural Women’s Assembly had an opportunity this year to have first experience with the Agroecology school and tour around the Lusaka, Eastern and Western side of the town doing farm exchange visits. For some of the sisters who partake in the journey it was the first time experience to be in one room to share indigenous knowledge and skills as a woman in feminist in Agroecology.

Women face water scarcity around their villages and climate change being the biggest contributor in having access to water. Mr. Nyika, ReSCOPE Director, had an opportunity to teach women about the climate change crisis. The main objective of the session was to equip women on water and climate change. Women came from different countries and some may differ on how to harvest water during the climate change crisis but can still have similar ways of doing it. Climate change is a global emergency crisis that affects everyone and every country so defining it in a way that women will understand what it is all about will assist them to go back to their communities and educate other women.

Rural Women\’s Assembly sisters also had a session on how to make Bokashi. Mr. Cedric Hadunka facilitated the session and women were excited to gain knowledge on theory and practical parts of Bokashi. Firstly, you need to first gather ingredients to make Bokashi and they are organic like dry materials, manure, charcoal, ashes, molasses, instant yeast, maize bran, soil, water. Bokashi is a word generated from a Japanese word and the meaning of the name is “pre-cooking” and it takes for 15 days’ unlike compost it takes 30 days to prepare before use.  Also you need resources like wheelbarrow, drums, water can, shovels, buckets etc. When preparing Bokashi you need to prepare it under the shade (importance of planting trees). After putting ingredients and adding them in layers you need to turn the Bokashi four times. Thereafter turn it once a day.

Women need to be empowered at all times because they need to keep the indigenous knowledge and indigenous seeds. Nowadays women are farming in difficult situations because they are facing water scarcity challenges, climate change, and the government approving Genetic Modified Organism (GMOs). One of  the reasons that  women did farm exchange visits in Zambia and  countries participating in feminist school was to promote seed bank and seed sharing. Seed sharing and keeping seeds is another way of assisting women to continue farming using Agroecology methods and avoid applying chemicals that are not good for health. Feminist Agroecology school is one of the systems used to empower women by educating them with all the necessary knowledge needed to be applied in organic farming. Indigenous knowledge started from our forefathers and still needs to be passed to the next generation. However, government policies and laws do not allow indigenous seeds and organic farming to be recognized as one of the methods to be used and applied in farming. Commercial farmers are allowed to have access to water, access to land, use chemicals that are harmful and also have access to local markets. For women to have all that they need to fight for their rights and the policies and laws but they still do not recognize women as farmers but only men. It is important for women to work in units and keep sharing indigenous seeds and indigenous knowledge to fight the government policies and influence decision making. One Woman, One Hectare and seed awareness campaigns should continue to be promoted in all the Rural Women’s Assembly country charters. Women need to be recruited to join the struggle that will assist them to farm without any fear of policies and laws of their country. 

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