Lahore, Pakistan, Oct 19, 2016 / 23:08 pm
Women farmers in Pakistan received helping hands recently from Caritas Pakistan, the Catholic bishops’ arm for social development.
The agency sponsored a four-day workshop to help women farmers develop their skills and economic competitiveness, with a focus on environmental sustainability.
“Empowering and strengthening the skills of women plays an important role in community development and agriculture is one of the important sectors,” Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, told CNA.
Gulzar said the event aimed to bring together women farmers and beneficiaries of women empowerment groups and entrepreneurship programs, providing a platform for them “to voice their issues and gather relevant learning skills from one another.”
The third Women Farmers Conference, held in Lahore Aug. 16-18, brought together 140 women from across Pakistan. This year’s theme was “Empowering Women, Empowering Pakistan.”
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi delivered a message of encouragement to the delegates. He emphasized promoting the rights and opportunities of “the most ignored section of women like ‘Haris’ (peasants), small farmers and tenants for their integrated development.”
The participants also shared their positive approaches, methods, and challenges during the inter-group discussion session.
Razia Mushtaq, a farmer from Sargodha (about 80 miles northwest of Faisalabad), shared her experience using a biofuel plant and recycling cattle dung to produce clean renewable energy for cooking. She reuses waste slurry on the fields to renew soil fertility and increase productivity.
The women farmers composed a final resolution highlighting their commitment to learning. They also created an action plan for various purposes: mobilizing women in response to climate change; training other women; gaining and disseminating information to others; and promoting sustainable agriculture and home grown vegetables to minimize malnutrition and food insecurity.
Gulzar praised the important role of the women in family and agriculture in Pakistani society. Highlighting the challenges faced by rural farmers, he encouraged them to update their skills and be open to learn new organic methods that will benefit the economy and healthy community development.