Shawasha Group strengthening women’s participation in agriculture and agro processing in Southern Africa

Jan 17, 2023

A woman picking cotton-Allamy


By Daphne Machiri

Africa’s increased integration into agricultural regional and global value chains is critical for its continued transformation. A central element of this transformation is the economic empowerment of women through improved productivity and increased participation from commercial and higher value-add activities in agriculture.

Women work primarily in smallholder production, however they tend to receive a significantly lower share of income in comparison to men in the same sub-sector depending on the country. There is rural wage gap between men and women in Africa. Women work largely on family-owned land, with little or no remuneration, and women’s land ownership rates are also significantly lower than those of men. Even if they do own the land, they tend to have limited access to financing, quality inputs and knowledge of agricultural practices.

According to World Bank publication titled “Women, Agriculture and Work in Africa”, women make up almost 50 percent of the agricultural labour force in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, there has been increasing recognition of the need to look at development programming, including for agricultural development, through the gender lens. Recognizing and addressing women’s role in agricultural value chains is imperative not only from the point of women’s empowerment but also for enhanced agricultural productivity and sustainability. In strengthening women’s participation in commercial agriculture and agro-processing brings the discussion on the topic a step further. This has seen Shawasha Group believing in a transformed, sustainable cotton industry where all participants have equal opportunities to thrive.

In their Strategy recognizing their opportunity to tackle systemic inequalities and unequal gender relations to promote shared power, control of resources, decision-making and support for women’s empowerment. They also committed to convening, inspiring and influencing the wider industry to also take transformative action.

Shawasha, is a women-driven aggregator in the agricultural value chain. In the Southern African region, the company specializes in contract farming and agricultural trading. Their team of agriculture technocrats has over 40 years of experience in conventional cotton, maize, pulses, oil seeds production, as well as the new, upcoming organic farming production. ShawashAgri is running a model which addresses gaps in cotton farming and their mandate is supporting agriprenuers which includes farmer capacity building access to markets access to finance.

One of the company Co-Founders of Shawasha Group, Lillian Nyamasoka recently participated at an African Agri Investment Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa where she presented on the “Entrepreneurial Mindset to Ensure Business Growth and to Overcome Limited Access to Land, Training, Production Inputs as well as Finance and Credit.”

Lillian Nyamasoka, Co-Founder of Shawasha Group

She mentioned that Shawasha’s image is boosting women’s Agri-Business to achieve social impact working towards achieving  sustainable development goals by 2030,  Goal -1 No Poverty, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, Goal -5 Gender Equality, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, Goal -8 Decent Work and Economic Growth Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, Goal -10 reduced Inequality Reduce inequality within and among countries and Goal -17 partnerships to achieve the Goal Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development through agriculture as they work with farmers from other countries Mozambique and Zambia.

They identify the right partners who are dynamic, enthusiastic, and open minded. “After identifying we offer training, advisory services, business linkage programs, industry trade fair participation, mentoring, provision of inputs,” said Nyamasoka.

She further highlighted that they do contract and pricing schemes, advance purchase agreements, trade fairs, study tours, export promotion agencies focusing on SME-heavy sector, public announcements, working with women farmers they do facilitate improved credit terms, credit facilities, input financing, matching grants, credit guarantee schemes and equity investments.

More so they create enabling environment policy and regulation reform, tax incentives, infrastructure, support to supplier development associations and cluster development. Modern agriculture is driven by continuous improvements in digital tools and data as well as collaborations among farmers and researchers across the public and private sectors.

The company introduced “My Shawasha App” which supports industry best practice, utilizes innovative communication practices and responsive two-way communication. Hence democratizing information access to farmers and developing countries are closing the technology gap and smaller businesses are able to gain benefits of scale in information access. The application contains farm data, it connects buyer and inputs sellers, geo-mapping, geo-fencing and it also has unique ecosystems for effective communication via text or voice note.

It has fully digitised supply chain and procurement solutions, it also has score-based decision tools for implementing sustainable, climate smart and resilient agriculture practices and climate smart advisory services.

*this article first appeared on AfricanInspiredPen263

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