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Peanuts and Feed the Future Empower Women in Zambia

Peanuts and Feed the Future Empower Women in ZambiaMany think of them as a fun salty snack for baseball games or a key ingredient in the classic PB&J, but for a large group of women in the eastern province of Zambia where nearly 85 percent of the labor force works in agriculture, peanuts are a way of survival and the means to a better life. Peanuts are the number one crop grown in this area by women. To improve the efficiency of the production and sale of this crop would mean a huge increase in their quality of life.

One project by President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative is working to teach female peanut farmers how to double their yield of peanuts, and increase their product market by producing a variety of different peanut products, like peanut oil and peanut butter. The initiative is partnering with the Zambian Government Agricultural Research Institute to train the women to become certified to grow higher quality hybrid seed varieties. Selling these seeds will bring in a much higher profit than the seeds the women were originally producing.

In order to help the women create different peanut products, Feed the Future provided a grant to the Katete Women’s Development Association, an organization that empowers women to grow crops like peanuts, for peanut oil expeller, which will help the women enter into the market of peanut processing. The new presser will help the women’s work to remain sustainable even after their donors have left. As long as they have the expeller, they can work themselves to turn their peanuts into profitable peanut products.

Not only will the higher quality peanut crop and new processing technologies help the women increase their quality of life, but they will be working in a business usually reserved for men. In most other countries, men are primarily in charge of producing and marketing the product, giving them all of the opportunities for further success. Feed the Future’s work is giving women the same opportunities and breaking the social boundaries of agricultural work in Africa.

– Emma McKay

Sources: USAID, CIA World Factbook
Photo: Flickr