Graça Machel, Founder of the Graça Machel Trust and an international advocate for women and children, will be visiting Lilongwe – Malawi from 13 to 16 March, 2018 to hold meetings with Government Ministers, members of the parliament, the United Nations family of organisations, civil society, private business, youth and women’s organisations to assess progress of the developmental programmes that the Trust runs in Malawi to improve the lives of women and children.
Through various trust-initiated networks which include the Network of the African Business Women (NABW), African Women in Agribusiness (AWAB), the Women in Media Network (WIMN) and the Graça Machel Scholars, the Trust runs a number of projects that seek to deepen women’s participation in key sectors of the economy and accelerate women’s economic advancement.
Machel will attend a roundtable meeting on seed policy organised by AWAB the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) and CARE Malawi.
The overall goal of the Malawi national seed policy is to provide clear guidelines for the development and promotion of the seed industry in order to raise agricultural productivity through the provision of sustainable, adequate and high-quality seeds.
Civil society organisations feel that the seed policy is not flexible enough and undermines the rights of farmers to save, use and re-sow seeds from previous farming seasons, thus impinging on the rights of farmers to make valuable contributions to agricultural growth and food security.
A meeting with the Minister of Agriculture is planned to discuss these and other issues.
Increasing women’s participation in the seed value chain is one of the projects the Trust has initiated in Malawi through the African Food Basket, which has the overall objective of strengthening seed production and distribution systems of affordable and drought tolerant soya, pigeon peas, cow peas and sugar bean breeder, basic and certified legume seeds in Malawi.
The African Foodbasket Project is working with nine women-owned seed companies and just over one-thousand smallholder farmers to grow indigenous seeds.
As part of this mission, Machel will be visiting farmers in Nsundwe village to see the fruits of their labour and visit a number of agro-dealer shops that have been established through the project to increase women’s access to markets.
Recognising the efforts of the Women Creating Wealth to recognize and celebrate the contribution of women to the growth and sustainability of African economies, Machel will be the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony of 60 women that participated in a 12-month entrepreneurial skills training programme in Malawi for women-led businesses with high-growth potential.
Through the Trust’s Women Creating Wealth (WCW) Programme, business women are trained in how to better manage their businesses and how to access finance and markets to graduate their businesses from micro to small, small to medium and medium to large business enterprises.