On 11 August, IITA Bukavu hosted a colorful event that attracted many eminent guests who took part in – and made their contribution to the Conference on Women in Agriculture with the theme “Women in Agriculture: Our Heritage, Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward”. A key feature of the day was the presence and keynote address of Dr Denis Mukwege, a human rights activist whose dedication to championing the cause of sexually abused women has earned him many international awards including The Sakharov Prize.
As a forum for sharing and reflecting on critical issues affecting women (especially sexually abused women), the event was attended by leaders from various IITA partner NGOs, private sector actors, women’s associations, and top government officials at both provincial and national levels, including the provincial governor of South Kivu, HE Marcellin Cishambo, and two national ministers in charge of Scientific Research and Land. Welcoming the dignitaries, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga recalled how the idea to organize the conference was nurtured two years ago after Mukwege visited Panzi Hospital and participated in a conference in Bukavu. Sanginga assured Mukwege that IITA is proud of his achievements and would be happy to work with his Foundation to lift the status of sexually abused women by improving their access to agricultural knowledge, food and nutrition security of their families, and income-generating opportunities.
Speaking on behalf of the CEO of Airtel D.R.Congo; Mr. Henry Lisasi had Reaffirmed the commitment of Airtel Congo to play an important role of providing digital support to employ vulnerable Rural women through ICT for Agriculture.
The event was also the opportunity to IITA And Airtel to present the Innovative Mobile Farmer application (IMFA) to the local government and to ICT stakeholders. IMFA is an application developped by IITA and Airtel D.R.Congo with the main objective of improving the life conditions of farmers in East and Central Africa. Within this project the Application will play an important role of building the capacity of sexually abused women; giving them access to the micro credit, market, and different possibility for social reintegration.
At the end of the workshop, participants recommended that – in collaboration with all development partners – the Government should take immediate steps to • Develop and implement peacebuilding and security strategies • Improve access to land by harmonizing land policy and land reform processes • Implement appropriate policies to ease access to agricultural loans based on farmer performance • Facilitate access to markets through collective marketing, and a partial tax waiver on key agricultural products • Develop community centers for training and information • Help in the dissemination of productive technologies and processing units for agro-products • Support IITA’s initiatives related to processing and marketing across the South-Kivu Province • Encourage community based organizations and cooperative formation in favor of women in rural areas • Coordinate and harmonize intervention strategies between all development partners.