Women are of vital importance to the agricultural sector thus women farmers are essential for food security in Zimbabwe.
Nearly 80% of women live in the communal areas where they constitute 61% of the farmers and they provide 70% of the labour, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Speaking to BusinessMail, founder and chairperson of Woman in Agriculture Union, Olga Nhari said women have opportunities to be commercially productive and enhance participation in making food systems more sustainable.
“Women in agriculture are key contributors to economic growth and global food and nutrition security. Not all women in agriculture are smallholder or subsistence farmers, they may be commercial producers, processors, amongst other roles,” said Nhari.
She also noted some of the key value chains that have been most effective in empowering women farmers that include production, value addition and marketing agriculture.
In the quest of commercializing farming, she remarked on gender-specific obstacles that put female farmers at a significant disadvantage before they ever plow a field.
“The barriers include access to land, finance, assets, market information, time and knowledge.
“Self-funding is a major challenge for women farmers when they embark on commercialization of their farming coupled with standard certification,” Nhari said.
Nhari applauded the government in creating an enabling environment for women farmers.
“However, more can be done, genuine quality means more than parity in numbers or laws in the books. Government should ensure women access land, inputs and allow flexibility of marriage laws to allow women’s equal rights to land and other productive assets,” Nhari said.
As the FAO reports, if women farmers gain access to the same resources as their male counterparts, the entire world will eat, too.
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