Rosemary Rodriguez worked for 22 years in a company, crisscrossing the countryside of the province of Durban. She noted that women, especially those from rural areas, have increased difficulties in accessing education and employment, which encourages them to move to cities - thus contributing to rural exodus. Rosemary also realized that women producers do not have direct access to the market and that they have a low income since they do not sell their products herself on the stalls whereas the wholesalers, on the other hand, earn a decent salary. There is therefore a strong correlation between the functioning of the food system and precariousness.
In reaction to this observation, Rosemary Rodriguez founded the association WAVE - Women Adding Value to the Economy (women bringing added value to the economy) which promotes cooperation between women in order to get out of poverty in the province. from Durban. The adventure began with 200 women, motivated to help each other and to prove that the wealth of the province lies in the rural areas.
“This is how the WAVE project began. We decided among women to sit down together and think about how we could help each other. "
Rosemary Rodriguez, President of WAVE
The project's mission is to enable communication on what is produced in rural areas, the organic and local interest, but also to improve the income of women producers. How to make consumers realize that their purchasing power can create local economy, local development, and thus create wealth in the territory? The challenge is in particular to convince consumers who have purchasing power to use it to buy locally and thus contribute to the development of the territory so that the money does not leave the territory.
Thanks to the WAVE network, synergies have been created between producers and traders: the most advanced can thus support new recruits, inform them about more profitable practices, give them sales tips and ways of making customers (as well as public policies) more attentive to local products as well as improving access to healthier food, etc.
The adventure went even further because the members were encouraged to transform their products: curry powder, pickles, cakes, flour, crisps, etc. Processing gives better added value to the product and allows to keep it as well as to sell it throughout the year.
Grouped together within WAVE, the women thus have access to a network of mutual aid, support and guidance for processing and sales. With this advice, women can have better access to the market, lend each other materials and can help each other in making their products.
Logistics remains the main obstacle that limits women's access to markets: unusual individual transport, unsuitable public transport for moving with its goods, insufficient number of markets ... For example, to go to the Durban market, women must send their produce 55 km from where they produced it. The majority of women in the WAVE group do not have their own means of transport and depend on public transport. In order to overcome this logistical challenge, the association is looking for solutions and Rosemary carries out transport missions to help these women.
"Our dream is that we can find our products everywhere, but we don't have enough markets yet. There are not enough farmers' markets. Particularly because people don't understand the advantages of organic, they don't understand the benefits of growing without pesticides, without fertilizers. There is still a lot of education to be done. "
Rosemary Rodriguez, President of WAVE
For the moment, the association does not receive public subsidies: the provincial government has difficulty understanding the process. Still, Rosemary is convinced that the government could help WAVE, if only technically, for example to gain access to water. The challenge then is to make the government understand that if everyone moves to Durban, who will feed all this population?
The little extras
The association does not only concern women farmers who sell their raw materials in the markets: some work in textiles, others in tourism, or as cleaning agents, etc.
In addition, WAVE's actions also help combat deeply rooted social and racial inequalities in the country, particularly between predominantly black farmers and predominantly white agricultural businessmen.
Cette fiche initiative a été rédigée par Adèle Guen et traduite par Lala Michelle bénévoles LFC - janvier 2021
Last modification : 29 Mar 2021.
WAVE - Women Adding Value to the Economy
WAVE (Women Adding Value to the Economy) is a group of 200 women who produce and process their produce in the southern area of Durban. Unable to earn an income that would allow them to get out of poverty, they began to transform their products in order to add value: flour, jams, sauces, pickles and others.
Grouped within WAVE, they thus have access to a network of mutual aid, support and accompaniment for processing and sales. With this advice, women can have better access to the market, lend each other materials and can help each other in making their products. The objective of the association is to continue to develop farmers' markets to sell their products locally, and to sensitize the population in order to strengthen local economic development through the purchase of local products.