Rural Women Farmers play a significant role in the food security of households, and a pivotal role in agricultural and rural economies in all developing countries. In Jamaica, women mainly participate in subsistence farming with only a few female farmers engaging in large-scale production. The Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers (JNRWP) aims to transform the role that women play, to that of economic and social stalwarts in the local agricultural sector. Women face severe challenges when trying to transcend traditional roles in farming. They do not have access to resources namely, land, water, irrigation systems, seeds, fertilizers, tools, training, and readily available marketing strategies. As such, the JNRWP aims to empower women farmer groups economically through access to land, productive resources, credit, technology, information, and markets and also, engender competence and incentives to develop as leaders in the Jamaican agricultural sector. We aim to raise funds to assist in fulfilling our mandate to promote the economic and social empowerment of vulnerable rural women.
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The JNRWP was formed in 1991 as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) under the distinguished patronage of the then First Lady of Jamaica, the Most Honorable Lady Cooke. The JNRWP now has a complement of over 700 women across the Island, which promotes the economic and social empowerment of vulnerable rural women, who would otherwise be unemployed and dependent, by providing them with land, inputs, and training.
The JNRWP provides a model for similar networks including the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP) of which it is a member. The Network’s development has over the years been guided by the Inter American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with other organizations concerned with the economic and social development of women, namely: Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); Bureau of Gender Affairs; Centre for Gender and Development Studies, University of the West Indies (UWI).
Traditionally, activities that rural women engage in typically include producing subsistence crops, tending farm animals, household processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, caring for family members, and maintaining their homes. Thus women face severe challenges when trying to transcend the traditional roles in farming. They do not have access to land, resources such as water, irrigation systems, seeds, fertilizers, necessary tools, harvesting equipment, training, and readily available marketing strategies, in order to aid in their career and personal development. Given that women in the traditional role are productive members of their household, they have the requisite fundamentals to be owners of their own farming enterprise.
The potential of rural women has long been documented, the FAO (2011) reported that if women have the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields and help to increase their standard of living and increase food security. FAO (2011) also indicated that equal access to the resources by both male and female farmers would increase the total agricultural output in the developing countries by 2.5 - 4%, thereby contributing to both food security and economic growth.
As such, the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers aims to empower women farmer groups economically through access to land, productive resources, credit, technology, information, and markets and also engender competence and incentives to develop as leaders in the agricultural sector of Jamaica.
The Network has initiated the Trelawny Pride Project in Clark’s Town, Trelawny Jamaica, where idle farmlands were negotiated to be leased to 35 women of the JNRWP. The objective is to develop sustainable agriculture for food security and to provide employment for the members of the Network and the community. This initiative is especially timely since many of our rural women and the wider community have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and need income-generating opportunities.
Primarily we seek to raise funds for the Trelawny Pride Project towards the financing of:
• a water harvesting and distribution system,
• a tractor
• a boom sprayer for fertilizer application
• post-harvesting facilities
• training and capacity building for women.
A major part of this thrust is to implement a revolving loan fund from the donations, which will be managed by the National People's Co-operative Bank of Jamaica Ltd, which engages in agricultural lending to farmers. The self-replenishing characteristic of this type of fund will ensure the sustainability and expansion of the project.
Once given the resources, rural women can become the backbone of sustainable agriculture. Generally, their attributes such as devotion to work, sense of responsibility, organizational skills, adaptiveness, and efficiency augmented by an organized group effort, are key attributes for success.
The success of the Trelawny Pride Project will be an example of how rural communities and indigenous female farmers can add to the value chain of sustainable agriculture while creating employment and securing food supply for the Jamaican and international markets.
The JNRWP is committed to the cause of rural women in Jamaica, to facilitate income generation and economic empowerment, and to demonstrate women's contribution to the country's food and nutrition security. We hope the model of a collaborative female-driven farming operation will continue to build the capacity of rural women to operate successful and sustainable farming enterprises throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Want to know how you can get more involved? Send us an email!
Thank you for even your consideration in helping us reach our goal and thank you even more to all that donate any amount to the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers! Every dollar brings blessings to the lives of the women in Jamaica's Network of Rural Producers!
- Marvin Hamilton
- Richard Campbell
- deloris henry
- Dwayney Paul
- Collin Miller
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