International Fund for Agricultural Development helps Zambian women with HIV raise goats

An initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural development helps female farmers in Zambia with HIV raise goats. It's part of movement to reduce rural poverty in Zambia.

Salim Henry/AP/File
Workers tend to the maize crops on Millers Farm Lusaka, in Zambia, March 17, 2003. An initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural development helps female farmers in Zambia with HIV raise goats.

In the Batoka area of Southern Province, Zambia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing support to the Harmony Women's Club, which helps women living with HIV raise goats.

The Harmony Women's Club has been receiving support through an IFAD initiative in the area, Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (SAPP). SAPP is an initiative supported by both public and private sectors of Zambia that aims to reduce rural poverty by improving the productivity, and thus the livelihoods, of small-scale farmers.

According to IFAD, approximately 75 percent of the Zambian population live in poverty, and many of the poorest households are headed by women and have members suffering from a chronic illness—many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, because the men often leave rural areas to seek employment in the cities, women have taken a more prominent role in food production and other income-producing activities for the household.

SAPP has selected groups in particular that are directly affected by HIV and AIDS as part of a wider effort by the government and other organizations in the country to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS on economic development and the population in general.

HIV and AIDS prevents many farmers in Zambia from maintaining good health and the ability to engage in farming and other income-generating labor. The prevalence of HIV and AIDS—which disproportionately affects women—and the lack of sufficient government infrastructure to support farmers in Zambia makes it difficult for small-scale women farmers to support their families.

The Harmony Women's club, founded in 2004, currently has 23 women, most of them living with HIV and AIDS. Many of the members recognize the need to maintain a basic level of well-being to be able to reap the benefits of the antiretroviral medications they take to manage living with HIV and AIDS. For the women of the Harmony Women's Club, raising goats that will yield higher market prices is crucial to earning enough income to keep themselves, and their families who rely on them, healthy.

SAPP has been involved with the club's activities to improve the nutrition and welfare of its members since 2012. SAPP has provided trainings to club members to improve their goat farming productivity, with topics including entrepreneurship, business planning, cooperatives, and "best practices" in goat farming.

Because buyers typically pay less than premium prices for the goats farmed in this area—due to the small size of local breeds—the Harmony Women's Club focuses on cultivating better breeding practices. The members believe that better breeding practices will increase the size and quality of the goats they farm and, consequently, the income they are able to earn from goat farming.

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