Mariam Tungu, a woman farmer from Singida’s Ikungi district in central Tanzania spent decades cultivating the small piece of land behind her home and had resigned herself to yielding only enough to sustain her family.
“If we got lucky, we had a little extra to sell and give our children some meat or eggs that week but sustaining this didn’t seem possible at the time”.
Mariam’s story is similar to that of many women farmers in the country, experiencing challenges of access to land, discriminatory social norms and attitudes, and limited access to credit and agricultural inputs like improved seeds and modern farming equipment.
In 2020, women from her village of Kipumbuiko joined forces and formed agricultural groups to pool resources and cultivate large pieces of land.
That same year, as part of the UN Women and UNFPA joint programme “Realizing Gender Equality through Empowering Women and Adolescent Girls”, supported by KOICA, UN Women partnered with Farm Africa to capacitate small-holder farmers’ groups in Kipumbuiko and surrounding villages on modern, climate-smart agricultural practices to improve sunflower farming productivity
The groups were trained and given improved sunflower seeds and enhanced access to markets through Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives. They will also improve crop storage through a newly constructed warehouse boosting post-harvest sales.
To date, over 300 women have benefited from the programme, increasing their income almost two-fold.
Women land owners farm more productively
With the increased income, Mariam started a small chicken farm, and her group diversified their crops, adding tomatoes, onions, and watermelon.
With evidence showing that increasing women’s land ownership improves their farming productivity, under the UN Joint Programme, UN Women partnered with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements, and local authorities to draft village land-use plans for women to obtain certificates of customary rights of occupancy (CCROs), allowing for the ownership of land under customary law.
“This enabled the issuance of over 5,000 CCROs in four villages of the Ikungi district, most of which were issued to women,” said Hodan Addou, UN Women Representative in Tanzania.
“The partnership with the Ministry of Lands and the district council has demonstrated how it can yield positive results,” she added. “Through the multi-faceted approach the programme employs, women have not only been able to increase their access to land to expand farming activities, and are also better equipped to employ better, more modern practices to improve their productivity. Furthermore, through the newly constructed warehouse in Ikungi, they can store their produce after harvest and negotiate better sale prices,” said Ms. Addou.
As beneficiaries of the capacity building on land rights, Mariam and her husband agreed to register both their names on their land, giving her joint ownership rights.
“I’m officially a landowner. And if anything happens to my husband, my rights will be protected. I couldn’t hope for a greater blessing,” said Mariam.
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