Empowering rural women and forging partnerships with Diana Fear of Central West Farming Systems

This episode Amanda talks to Diana Fear, CEO of Central West Farming Systems, a farmer-led not-for profit group that covers 14 million hectares of the lower rainfall country. Diana talks about her work driving projects that empower women in rural communities and the importance of embracing new roles, building confidence, and forging partnerships.

Topics covered:
· Central West Farming Systems: What is it and why?
· Tackling an overdependence of chemicals in low rain all areas
· Frustration over the metro perception of farmers: We need food and fibre but farmers carry so much risk
· Empowering women in agriculture: Massive flow on effects for regional communities
· Untapped resource of rural women
· Diana’s experience in India with an NGO transforming rural communities through women’s empowerment
· Adoption of a model that empowers smaller groups
· Top tip: Try not to overreach. Keep groups small
· Preventing rural youth drain
· Challenges of meeting in person when your rural footprint is so large
· Fantastic women: Sophie’s Venison farm
· Mixing communication methods: Online and printed material. Covering social media channels. The effectiveness of a printed newsletter
· Building confidence. Give women the opportunity to bolster confidence.
· Barriers to new practices and better machinery. Farmers need to be profitable to invest in infrastructure
· Partnering with researcher and institutions such as DPI, MLA, GRDC, Soils CRC
· Challenges: Funding does not align with farmer needs
· Collaboration is effective if the group is united in a common goal
· Advice for embracing new roles: Don’t be nervous!
· Increasing adoption of new ideas
· Advice on the seasonal nature of projects: have a toolbox that is contextually relevant in low rainfall areas. Give farmers more options so they can make their own agile decisions.
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