Female farmers on the rise: Maria Zileni, Australian University nurse turned a big time farmer

Globally , the agricultural industry has seen a rise in female farmers in the recent year.

According to World Bank findings, analysis of individual labour input data from Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda puts the female share of labour in crop production across these countries at 40 percent.

In UK, the number of women running farms has jumped by nearly 10 percent to more than 25,000 between 2010 and 2013, according to the Department for Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

CEO, Tuzini Farms Ltd, Maria Zileni Zaloumis in her cabbage farm

Women such as the CEO/Founder of Tuzini Ltd, Maria Zileni Zaloumis, fondly called Zed farmer has brought a huge difference into the agriculture sector in Zambia and Africa at large.

Maria, a 33 year old trained nurse and cardiologist dumped her profession of 12 years to become a farmer. She has, however broken through an agricultural barrier in terms of providing economic opportunities and income generation.

In 2003, she travelled to Australia to pursue a Bachelor of science degree in Nursing from Australian Catholic University. She returned to Zambia from Australia to settle in 2015. She found her father ill with an incurable disease called Alzheimer’s disease,a disease that affects the brain functions. He started farming on a small scale, but couldn’t continue farming due to the condition.

In her struggle to get a Job, she then takes over her father’s farm and started with half  a hectare of tomatoes and has expanded to 13 hectares.

Tuzini Farms

Zed farmer who generates a gross daily income of over $500 is currently has dedicated 13 hectares for tomatoes, 8 hectares for maize meant for her cows, some grazing pasture and about 20 beds for rape meant to service bills for chemicals which she gets from some company. Her farm employs over 62 jobs.

Despite the nature of farm field work, Maria still maintain her gorgeous look. She stated on her Facebook page, “I don’t believe a farmer has to look dirty. I get dirty, yes, in my field, but I still maintain and look after me. This is a a new facets agriculture”.

Maria bagged the youngest to sit on the Zambia national farmers union board (ZNFU), which eventually saw her becoming the youngest Director of the farmers union after she was voted into that position by the farmers .

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