Ina Ouro Dicko lives and works in the rural municipality of Korombana in the Mopti region of Mali. With a sick husband and two children to feed, she had to find a job to support her family. As part of the Program to Support Food Security and the Resilience of Populations to Social and Climate Crises in the region of Mopti (PASARC), which is funded by the Dutch Embassy in Mali and implemented by the Near East Foundation (NEF), Ina became involved in the Sabaly Cooperative of Korientzé, which works in agriculture and livestock farming in the municipality of Korombana.
PASARC has supported the Sabaly Cooperative, which includes 24 women who work in rice production, by developing an irrigated perimeter of 6 hectares equipped with a motor pump. Before becoming involved in the cooperative, most of the women had no source of income and little opportunity to participate in rice production because men traditionally dominate the field. In 2012, with support from PASARC, the women came together in Korombana to start their own rice production, each cultivating a farming area of 2,500 square meters, with a total output of 24,500 kg in the first season. As a result, many of the women are now financially independent.
When Ina asked to join the cooperative, some of the women were skeptical because of her inexperience in the field, and they questioned her ability to handle the hard work. But now they are all proud of Ina because she was the only woman to produce 1,900 kg of rice last season. Of the 19 bags harvested, she sold five to pay her water bills, gave one bag to charity, and used half a bag for canoe transport costs. She kept the remaining sacks in reserve to feed her family for the rest of the year. At home, she is considered the head of the household. “I’m so grateful for the PASARC project, because now I don’t have to worry about feeding my family this year,” Ina says.
The PASARC project has improved the quality and quantity of food for participants’ families, boosted the women’s incomes, built cohesion among the women, increased their authority over rice production, and strengthened their financial independence. The women also reported that men in the community have more respect for them because of what they are able to harvest to support their families. Equally important, the women have become more resilient to any unexpected hardships they may face in the future.