FARMING FIRST – As a young woman growing up in Northern Uganda, tradition didn’t allow Nancy Adong, 26, to own land, only to farm on her husband’s family’s land and only then with his permission.
Her situation is far from uncommon, presenting an immediate disadvantage for millions of rural women, who work in agriculture in greater numbers than men.
When Nancy did get permission to farm and harvest from the family land, there was always a challenge over control of the profits. Her husband oversaw and undertook decisions on how to spend income from the harvest and when Nancy used the money to meet domestic needs, her husband would challenge her over not seeking his permission first.
But in 2017, Nancy was recruited as a community-based trainer with Equator Seeds Limited (ESL), a seed company based in Northern Uganda partnering with the Feed the Future Youth Leadership for Agriculture (YLA) Activity. In this role, she took charge of two farmer groups, winning her newfound confidence, leadership skills and respect.
With time, interactions with both the young and old during farmer group training sessions helped build respect for her based on a wealth of information that she shared with them. She became the go-to person for knowledge and advice on proper farming techniques.
“Becoming a community-based facilitator compelled me to be an example to all women in my village,” Nancy said.
She believed that her leadership role bolstered her ability to communicate her needs and ambitions to her husband and to convince him of the benefits of allowing her access to land for farming.
Eventually, he obliged and allocated her land to farm on. With the intervention of ESL, Nancy said she gained confidence, now farms with knowledge, carries out crop rotation, and she has been able to get harvest more, earn more, and her children have joined better schools. The family has even started to build a permanent house.
Today, Nancy and her husband have been able to plan together because he believes in her, having seen the fruits of her entrepreneurialism, and they allocate resources as a family.
It hasn’t solved everything – one of Nancy’s new challenges is how to transport her harvest – but it has empowered Nancy and her family to grow together. As part of her burgeoning business, Nancy plans to budget for motor vehicle hire costs to carry crops from the garden to the ESL storage points.
“The rigorous training in farming as a business, seed production, and rural agricultural extension services exposed me to a wealth of opportunities for income generation and job creation in agriculture,” she said.
For more stories of bridging the gender gap, visit Farming First’s Fill The Gap page or follow #FillTheGap on social media.