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Women rice parboilers increase their income and gain social recognition

In December 2022, the members of the Federation of Malagasy rural female farmers (FVTM) and the coalition of farmers of Madagascar (CPM) in Mahabo, received a GEM rice parboiling kit, composed of a soaking tank, steamer and rice husk-fueled stoves.

The donation came from the East and Southern Africa Parboiling Rice project, funded by GIZ from 2019 to 2022, and aiming to pilot improved rice parboiling technology among rural farming households and consumers in Madagascar and Mozambique.

The equipment received includes the GEM system which (i) enhances rice Grain quality, retaining nutrients and reducing breakages at milling, (ii) is Energy efficient, using husk as fuel, and (iii) is fabricated with stainless Materials lasting for 20 years. The project built the capacity of the local fabricators. Today, 11 fabricators and artisans can fabricate, repair and support parboiling activities in Madagascar and Mozambique.

8 women groups/platforms received each a parboiling kit, and prototypes were given to partners to scale-up parboiling. 537 women in Madagascar and 432 women in Mozambique were trained on rice parboiling, outspreading the gained competencies to over 5700 women and men.

The women in Mahabo made the best of the kit, and upon experiencing real challenges, proactively called a support-trained artisan to share lessons of managing moisture content, drying, and storing parboiled rice.

On a fortuitous visit to Mahabo six months after the donation, I was literally shown stars in new booklets recording each woman's contribution to the group savings and the group’s cumulating savings at the nearby microfinance institution. Each star is a voluntary 2000 Ariary (Madagascar currency) token savings arising from the profits of selling parboiled rice. Hence, despite the feeling of the premature project ending barring technical backing and wide consumer awareness, these women are rising stars into the venture.

According to Mme Brice Razafindraozy, FVTM president in the region: “the project empowered us as contributors in our homes, we feel more valued, and we are role models in our communities. We, also, no longer fear to bargain with collectors, and can now sell at higher prices and earn higher incomes”.

The women have become bold ‘entrepreneurs’ who know what they want; they lead parboiled rice awareness sessions in fairs through rural radios and engage directly with local consumers. Women attend the meetings more regularly and demonstrate more interest and group dynamism. The majority adopted improved farming techniques and increased their rice farm area. Non-members asked to join them and learn more about parboiling. Mme Brice, the star collector, and her group are already training other women in her community and beyond thus scaling up the best practices and benefits of the parboiling rice project.

The ESA Parboil project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Fund International Agricultural Research (FIA).


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