How African Farmers Can Prioritize Well-Being and Mental Health

March 14, 2024 0


In March 2024, Juma Otieno, a maize farmer in Siaya, Kenya, knew something had to change. The strain of managing unpredictable weather, fluctuating market prices, and mounting debt was overwhelming. He was missing out on precious time with his family and felt constantly exhausted. Inspired by fellow farmers’ experiences, Juma took a crucial first step: reevaluating his farming practices and seeking support.

“In farming communities, why is there pressure to hide our struggles? Why do requests for help or a break seem like a sign of weakness?” he questions.

Across the continent, Mariama Diallo, a Senegalese rice farmer, once felt trapped in a similar cycle of relentless stress. She decided to take control instead of allowing worry to dominate her life. Through counseling and community support, Mariama found ways to manage her anxieties. The time invested in her well-being, though initially challenging, ultimately strengthened her resolve as a farmer.

Mariama now understands the value of sharing her journey. She speaks with other farmers, offering an empathetic ear, and works alongside local leaders to ensure they understand the pressures of agriculture and are equipped to provide help.

“My mental health is just as important as my crops. I urge others to remember that resources and support do exist,” she says.

Read: Field of Mind – Exploring the Mental Health Crisis in Agriculture

Facing Chronic Stress in African Agriculture

Dr. Amina Yusuf, who works with farmer collectives across West Africa, highlights that constant stress is pervasive in agriculture. The cascading effects of climate uncertainty, market volatility, and in some areas, conflict, create a deep sense of unease.

“Our minds become consumed with potential crises,” she explains, “This makes it extraordinarily difficult for farmers to find moments of joy and connection with their work and their loved ones.”

Dr. Yusuf encourages a proactive approach. “Look at your operation with a critical yet compassionate eye. What changes, big or small, can support the long-term sustainability of your farm and your own health?”

“Remember,” she emphasizes, “Prioritizing self-care isn’t an act of weakness; it’s ensuring you have the strength to support your farm and family well into the future. Decide how you can incorporate well-being into your day and don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted individuals, family, or support groups for extra help.”

Eagmark has developed an Agricultural Health and Medicine Course which aims to educate and safeguard the well-being of farmers, their families, and communities. The course teaches how the agricultural environment influences health and works to address the specific health challenges within these populations. You can enroll today HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email us with any inquiries or questions.

Connect with us on our social networks: