Putting the spotlight on small-scale women farmers

  • 23rd October 2017
  • by secretary
17 October 2017. Oxfam and local partners in Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia launched the Female Food Hero programs in 2011. The initiative, which has developed into a popular reality TV show, creates a new awareness about the role that small-scale women farmers play in food production throughout the world. With a variety of contests and events, the initiative celebrates outstanding women farmers—those who have overcome challenges and made significant, lasting contributions to their communities.

Introduction: Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit, DEVCO C1- Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition, European Commission


  • Magdalena Thomas, Campaigns Coordinator – Feminist Movement Building, Oxfam in Tanzania
  • Maria Mbuya, Female Food Hero award winner 2016, Tanzania
  • Evelyn Nwaru, Female Food Hero award winner 2016, Nigeria
  • Hanna Saarinen, Investment in Agriculture Policy Advisor, Oxfam EU advocacy Office

Maria Mbuya of Tanzania and Evelyn Ifebuche of Nigeria are Female Food Heroes who shine light on the way forward. They have proved that empowering and investing in women farmers is one of the most effective ways to fight hunger and care for a more resilient and secure planet.

  • Maria Alfred MbuyaTanzania
    Maria is a mother of two boys and breadwinner for a family of six. She plants maize, vegetables and water melon on a three-acre farm. Maria is a teacher but her salary is not enough for her family needs, so she pays for her children’s school fees and medical bills with income from selling food crops.
    Thanks to winning the Female Food Heroes Award in 2016, Maria can buy a gutter, incubator, fertiliser, seeds, power tiller and 3 acres of land and continue providing for her family. But Maria has a warning, too. She insists women are dependent on progressive agricultural policies that “ensure resources are available to women, especially seeds and also farming equipment”. 
  • Nwaru Evelyn IfebucheNigeria 
    Maria Mbuya of Tanzania

    Evelyn went into agriculture at a very early age – when she was 10, she was helping her father on the farm. Since her culture usually expects the husband to provide for the women, Evelyn stopped farming when she got married. But due to financial challenges in her marriage, she decided to go back fully into agriculture. Evelyn farms rice, cassava, corn, yam, cocoa yam and groundnut on a 3-hectare plot.
    From her farm, she earned enough to support her husband to build a house. Now, she doesn’t only support her immediate family, she also shares with the most vulnerable who are unable to farm in her community. Women from Evelyn’s community are still unable to buy land without the approval of men. But after she won the FFH award in 2016,
    Evelyn mobilised 10 women rice farmers into a cooperative to access government inputs, credit and machinery. She formed a women’s Village Savings and Loans Association who meet weekly to save, borrow and discuss other socio-economic issues that affect them. Evelyn’s vision is to inspire other women to become confident in themselves and for women to be given the respect they deserve in the community.

Video of the conference: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/news-and-events/putting-spotlight-small-scale-women-farmers_en

Oxfam paper: Financing Women Farmers; The need to increase and redirect agriculture and climate adaptation resources (2017)
Video: FFH initiative in Tanzania