By Christine Chiromo
Environmental management agency (EMA) has applauded women who are earning a living from selling grass to thatchers and poultry farmers while conserving the environment through minimizing the spread of veld fires.
EMA provincial spokesperson Oswald Ndlovu said harvesting grass reduces biomass, thereby decreasing veld fires in the Midlands province.
“Last year we had 75 364 hectares of land lost through veld fires. A1 and A2 farmers were the most affected, hence we encourage them to construct fireguards as well as encouraging more women to venture into thatch grass harvesting as a way of reducing veld fires.”
The women, who operate under Old Ascot Kushinga Thatching Grass Club said they were now fending for their families through the venture as they sell a bundle of thatching grass between US$0.50 and US$1 depending on quantity of grass bundles.
“To date, our club numbering about 63 including a few men who recently joined us, managed to sell about 15 000 bundles of thatching grass,” club chairperson Beatrice Madhende said during a recent Environmental Management Agency (EMA) media tour.
“We go to nearby farms and plots where we harvest the grass and sell it to people who do thatching. We have managed to make a living from the venture, not only for buying food but also paying rent and school fees as well as buying household property.”
She said EMA provided them with sickles however the women appealed to EMA to help them with gloves, gumboots, work-suits and sun hats.
“At first, we thought EMA officials wanted to arrest us for cutting grass but we later learnt they were actually happy that our activities were helping reduce the spread of veld fires,” she said.
A member of the group, Olta Nyoka said life can change for anyone from grass harvesting as hers had changed for the better since she joined the club. Women were now helping their husbands through selling grass as besides preserving the environment, there are numerous economic benefits from grass harvesting,
“I pay my tithes, buy food, property, pay rent and school fees but above all, I am helping preserve the environment,” she said.