Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the women farmers of Pemba, part 1

the farms of Mjini Kiuyu

Seaweed farming is a gender equalizing employer. When the commercial cultivation of seaweed on the beaches of Zanzibar was first introduced in the early 90s, it was viewed as effeminate work. Men fish, build roads, carve out stone blocks, or work in hotels– activities that bring money on a daily or weekly basis – they do not tie seedlings on ropes, tend them and wait for a month and a half to earn an income. While they can probably earn more in traditional fishing, seaweed farming has, over the years been demonstrated to be more steady, reliable and not prone to the vagaries of weather, season or tourism trends.

Mjini Kiuyu farmer
woman farmer in pensive mood

Mjini Kiuyu farm covering head
peeking through her kanga

Slowly, over more than 15 years, the profile of seaweed farmers in Zanzibar is slowly changing. Men are progressively joining the fray and in some places, villages as a whole participate in the mariculture of seaweed that is sold dry to exporters to carrageenan manufacturers in the US, Denmark, France and on a smaller scale to Spain, China and Vietnam.

Mjini Kiuyu woman floating on water
she almost floated on water

Mjini Kiuyu farm with plastic boat
woman with plastic boat

Mjini Kiuyu women pulling boat
pulling her harvest

Often cited as a form of empowerment of women, seaweed farming allows women to earn money for the family on a regular basis, and increasingly in the coastal communities where seaweed can grow productively and efficiently, their earnings can even exceed what the men can bring. Because seaweed cultivation is only customarily conducted during low tide – which in equatorial Africa meant only some 14 days a month when the moon is high and full – traditional female roles of child rearing and keeping the house are not necessarily neglected.

Mjini Kiuyu three women
working in threes

Mjini Kiuyu sitting woman smiling
sitting and smiling

Mjini Kiuyu farm sitting woman in blue smiling
woman in blue

To go: Mjini Kiuyu is a village in Eastern Pemba, in the tidal flat inside Adamson Bay. It is about 1 ½ hours by road from Chake Chake, the capital of Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: