Rewriting the narrative around agriculture

Helvi Shindume

Helvi Shindume (25) is a young farmer, agri-influencer and the founder of Women in Agriculture Namibia (Wian).

She was recently appointed to the Ohangwena Communal Land Board by minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein.

Shindume was born and raised at Onhuno in northern Namibia and completed her high school career at Jan Möhr Secondary School in Windhoek.

She acquired a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and an honours degree in agribusiness at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

Shindume says her passion for agriculture developed in primary school.

She recalls it being her highest-scoring subject.

She says she enjoyed cultivating the crops in her high school garden and completing agricultural assignments.

Amelia Immanuel, one of Shindume’s colleagues, describes her as a professional, hardworking person, who is driven and passionate about what she does.

“Helvi is dedicated to her work and is always ready to go the extra mile to achieve goals for the team,” she says.

Shindume says one of the obstacles she has faced as a young woman farmer is overcoming the stereotypes that exist about women in agriculture.

For instance, she recalls frequently being asked why a woman would study agricuclture.

Nonetheless, she took pride in the work she does and remained determined and focused on her goals, she says.

In Shindume’s quest to change the narrative around women in agriculture, she established Wian.

“Wian was established in October 2019 with the purpose of strengthening the recognition of women’s contribution to the agricultural sector,” she says.

Its aim is to empower women to play a more prominent role in agriculture.

The organisation provides resources and support, as well as various networking opportunities and capacity development for farmers.

Wian not only includes women farmers, but also male farmers.

It has sister organisations in Botswana, South Africa, Gambia and Angola.

Shindume says the goal of the organisation is to grow beyond the Southern African Development Community region and to collaborate with similar organisations in other countries.

“Farming alone is a risk from start to finish and it can knock you down. Sometimes there are seasons of investing, coupled with little to no productivity,” she says.

Shindume, however, believes that with a determined attitude, success is inevitable.

She encourages aspiring woman farmers to be willing to challenge the traditional gender roles, as some traditional leaders as well as community members still believe women cannot own land without being married.

Shindume says she is passionate about advocating for women and youth in agriculture as she believes in the transformative power of gender equality and youth empowerment.

– Afterbreak Magazine

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