Handheld hoe project May 03, 2016 The African Union Foundation believes that addressing issues facing women and empowering women are pivotal to developing Africa. Agriculture in Africa is largely driven by women. But many of these women have no land rights and are using outdated tools like the handheld hoe to till the land. It is for this reason that the AU has launched a campaign to end the use of handheld hoes by 2025. The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, unveiled the handheld hoe project at the 2015 African Union Summit, where it was endorsed by the heads of state. The summit was held under the theme, “Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The use of the handheld hoe is one of the problems highlighted in Agenda 2063. (Image: AUF) Dlamini-Zuma lamented the fact that in the 21st century women continue to labour using dated equipment like the handheld hoe, which she said must be confined to a museum by 2025. African women make up about 70% of the small-scale farmers that help feed the growing population on the continent. These smallholder farmers plant seeds by hand, weed by hand and harvest by hand. This is unhealthy and labour intensive, resulting in known complications such as spinal cord injuries and premature ageing. Tillers were handed to each of the 54 AU member states at the launch, symbolising the commitment of these countries to mechanised agriculture and reducing the suffering of women. The AU has challenged all its countries to commit 10% of their annual budgets to agriculture, and to target annual agriculture growth of 6%. A tiller is a versatile machine – it has many uses, including cultivating, planting and weeding. Tillers can also help women earn extra income for their families by leasing them out to those wishing to cultivate their own land, while they can also serve as a transporter of people, produce, firewood and water when fitted to a wagon.