Roseau Dominica, June 15, 2021: Over two hundred farmers, 138 females and 89 males from communities in the Eastern, Central and Southern regions descended on the Old Mill Cultural Centre and the Ocean View Retreat Centre respectively for a theatrical treat. Weather, money, transportation, community vibes, children, family, and relationships are some of the areas impacting women farmers’ resilience to disasters in their quest to be the best farmers they can be for their family, community, and country. And the Belle Tori -Women is Farmahs Too play, provides a glimpse of this reality, making the public aware of the rigors of farming and the love for the industry that keeps our women engaged in the business. The play is one of many activities to inform farmers and the general public of the work of the Strengthening Disaster Management Capacity of Women in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Dominica project facilitated by the United Nations Development Programmme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in collaboration with donors and the Government.

 

Knowing how to prepare for, adapt to and reduce the impact of disasters on farming is important to the profitability and continued sustenance of the sector and for food security. The levels of support of the extension officers and other farmers, training, and challenges of treating agriculture as a business are realities that the women farmers in the play portray to allow the public to enter their world. Donor agencies like UNDP are extending support to these women in disaster mitigation practices and farm management to allow them to realize success in their farming business. Amidst the humor, Ma Jollie, the main character, hopes that all women farmers will embrace training opportunities to improve their farming business and that the populace will increase their purchase and consumption of local food products.

 

Farmers were thrilled with the performance, many commenting that it captured their situation accurately and intimated that the use of popular theatre as a learning tool was a welcomed surprise.

 

Even if you learn those things in a classroom, seeing it on stage makes you understand it and remember it better. It was very good. I liked it. Female farmer, Cochrane

 

‘Could not stop laughing. Had a good time. Very informative. I learnt a lot,’ female farmer, Bellevue Chopin

 

It highlighted some of the issues faced in agriculture: predaeial larceny, underestimation of the contribution of women to agriculture, respect for women in agriculture, farmers naivety about the cost of production, and the fact that women have more influence on children going into agriculture than men do, male farmer, Bellevue Chopin

 

It was very interesting. I liked it. I learnt a lot. I like the part where they talk about tying the plantain before the storm to stop it from falling down. Female farmer, Grand Fond

 

The Strengthening Disaster Management Capacity of Women in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Dominica project provides skill training (PICSA and CSA) to farmers to encourage them to adopt new practices including the better utilization of climate and weather data in their farm planning, using drought resultant seeds and cultivars, and diversifying their current farm operations. In addition to its work with farmers the project will increase Dominica’s capacity in the effective and timely use of early warning systems.

 

Although the project is not a women-only initiative, it targets female farmers to ensure that their needs in preparation, adaptation and mitigation are duly met as they are often first respondents during disasters, yet their contributions are not sufficiently recognized or acknowledged and consequently their specific gender needs not met.  In Dominica, female farmers contribute significantly to national food security and the nation’s health. 

 

Belle Tori - Women is Farmahs too, written and directed by Curtis Clarendon, brought out the challenges and strengths of women farmers and the level of support that donor agencies like UNDP continue to give farmers, to help them improve their farming business. The project is funded by the government of Japan and implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Dominica. Key partners are the Ministry of Blue and Green economy with extension officers playing a vital and positive role, the MET office, CIMH, UoR and IICA.

 

This project is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision. As the Caribbean continues to seek solutions to build resilience and livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and building resilient communities that can withstand shocks and crises through targeted projects and programmes. 

 

For further information on this project kindly contact Sawana Fabien at sawana.fabien@undp.org

 

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