Rosette, an everyday heroine in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Rosette Kabua is chairperson of a farmers’ group in the village of Kalengera in Eastern DRC. She and her fellow members harvested some 200 metric tons of maize and beans this year
Rosette, like many in North Kivu province, is a courageous farmer. However, war, displacement and lack of access to land and farming tools have been major obstacles in a region that was once a breadbasket. For the last two years she has participated in a World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) resilience-building project known as “Purchase for Progress”, or P4P, funded by the government of Canada. The project helps farmers increase output and improve access to markets, thereby boosting their earnings — and their status in their communities.
We meet Rosette in a warehouse she manages. It was built by a number of farming groups within the framework of the P4P initiative. “Our second harvest of the year has yielded 185 metric tons of corn and beans,” she says proudly. “This is the work of 11 groups in the P4P family. It’s more than we’ve ever brought in before because our planting and harvesting techniques improve each year thanks to what we’ve learned. We’ll have more than enough to eat, and even a surplus to sell. We intend to use the proceeds to buy more cattle — and perhaps more land — and to pay our children’s school fees.”
P4P is a comprehensive program designed to empower women, offering female farmers courses in reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as opportunities to start small businesses (e.g. catering, baking, sewing). In this rural, war-torn area, it is rare for young people, especially girls, to finish secondary school. At 45, Rosette became a student again for nine months, and now has major responsibilities within her farming group. These include the management, with other group chairs, of the warehouse where they store their harvested crops.
Rosette generously passes on what she’s learnt from the P4P courses to other women farmers. One, Josephine Muvilia, has gone on to start her own business: a profitable small restaurant next to the warehouse. It’s also adjacent to a market, guaranteeing a solid customer base.
“Agriculture is also a business.”
Josephine and Rosette are among 250 women in North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory running their own small farms and businesses thanks to the P4P programme, enabling them to provide enough food for their families and otherwise better themselves.
“Before the P4P programme we could barely produce enough food to survive,” says Rosette. “Now, farming has become profitable. I am committed to developing agriculture because my country is blessed with many advantages, not least the fertile land that allows us to harvest twice a year.”
Read more about WFP’s work in the DRC.