By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
Helvi Shindume, a farmer and entrepreneur with a degree in agricultural science and an Honors Degree in Agribusiness, says farming is one of the most critical sectors.
Shindume said agriculture ensures food security and economic independence for Namibia, hence the need for training experts in farming at tertiary institutions across the country.
She said uplifting women farmers would help hundreds of millions fight hunger, poverty, and climate change.
“Growth in small-scale agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than any other sector, and women farmers play a central role. They produce food for their families and communities,” stated Shindume.
Hence more action has to be taken to ensure that they (women farmers and smallholders) have the resources they need to improve their livelihoods, tackle food insecurity and build their communities’ resilience to climate change.
In October 2019, she created the Women in Agriculture Namibia organization (WIAN).
WIAN is a non-profit agricultural organization established to strengthen the recognition of women’s contribution to the agriculture sector in Namibia.
“Our overarching objective is to enhance the capacity of women farmers to efficiently produce high-quality agricultural products to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods,” explained Shindume
WIAN facilitates various interventions to enhance the position of women farmers in the country: increased access to land, increased access to irrigation and technology, increased access to agricultural finance, and enhanced skills and capacity development.
She said the government needs to ensure women have secure land rights and provide women with vital funding and support for farming and adapting to climate change.
However, Shindume added that as an organization, it is its responsibility to meet the government halfway and make sure to break down the barriers that are holding back women farmers and preventing them from accessing critical farming inputs.
She said such support would protect their rights and boost their productivity. It would unleash the potential of millions of women farmers to reduce poverty and hunger in the Sub-Saharan region effectively.
According to Shindume, WIAN has a reach in all country regions, consisting of diverse women who are proactively dynamic in their communities.
Most of them are small-scale farmers that produce for their households and populace in their vicinities, while some are qualified agriculturalists.
Shindume highlighted that developing countries like Namibia need to untangle the potential benefits African countries could get if they strive for greater gender equality in the agricultural sectors to ensure food security.
She said WIAN would be launching the Female Farmer of the year awards to celebrate Namibian women striving and doing a fantastic job contributing to food security.
Hence the founder urged and called upon key stakeholders who would like to collaborate with us in this initiative to contact us, she said.
“I believe if women are empowered and supported, we can create a more food-secure nation,” said Shindume.
Financier such as Agribank has seen the gap in women’s financing in the agricultural sector and embarked on women and youth inclusive financing journey providing friendly terms and conditions.
In 2020, the pro-youth drive led to the Women and Youth Loan Scheme (W&Y), targeted at youth (both men and women) of 35 years and below, women of all age categories, agri-professionals full-time and part-time farmers.
Under the W&Y scheme, the target group is offered flexible collateral financing options, such as salary-backed loans, whereby repayment can be through payroll deduction, contract financing, and 100% loan-to-value collateral.
The recent product review exercise added a provision of a debit order for the W&Y scheme, applicable when the payroll deduction agreement between employers and Agribank is not in place and subject to the client’s affordability. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org