Just 2% Zim women have access to commercial  land- World Bank

By Agencies

THE World Bank (WB) has revealed that only 2% of Zimbabwean women own agricultural land due to lack of finance to purchase commercial farms.

Currently, most farmers occupying the farms repossessed by the government during the land reform programme since 2000 do not have title deeds.

As such, these new farmers are unable to use their land as collateral to borrow from banks to start farming projects.

Further, the previous owners, who were mostly white, are disputing the way their farms were repossessed with the government now having to pay US$3,5 billion to the farmers as compensation for land development.

In its latest report titled Zimbabwe Gender Assessment Report, the global lender said while only 2% of women owned farms, 3,8% of men had title deeds to farms.

“Compared to men, women have less ownership and access to agricultural land. Documented ownership of agricultural land is low in Zimbabwe, just 2% of women and 3,8% of men are deeded landowners,” the WB said.

“This is driven by lack of finance to purchase commercial farmland, challenges with navigating the system of land titling and traditional exclusion of female spouses in land titling or user rights.”

The WB said fewer women earned their livelihoods in the agriculture sector, 66% compared to 57%, with their productivity lower.

This trend is driven by their concentration in subsistence agriculture, limited access to land titles, especially for high productivity (commercial) farming; limited access to: financing, agricultural assets, farm, and crop management skills, and restricted access to additional farm labour,” it said.

According to the WB, agriculture is one of Zimbabwe’s largest industries and one of the country’s central economic engines.

Statistics from the global lender revealed that in 2019, the sector contributed 15-20% to national gross domestic product and 25% to formal employment.

“It also served as the largest single source of export earnings in the country — accounting for 63% of raw materials for agriculture-based industries and it is a source of livelihood for 70% of the country’s population,” the World Bank said.

“Agriculture serves as the country’s central source of food and nutrition security, and with 61,4% of the population being in rural locations. It is a critical avenue for job creation, economic growth and poverty reduction.”

The WB urged the authorities to adopt policies that can encourage the participation of women in agriculture considering its earning potential.

“The Government of Zimbabwe is encouraged to adopt an inter-sectoral strategy to address the many remaining dimensions of gender inequality in the country. It is necessary to address policy implementation gaps, harmonise gender laws and policies and strengthen the institutional capacities of gender-relevant ministries,” the report read in part.

“Improved coordination mechanisms are needed to break down organisational silos and ensure a more aligned gender agenda across ministries. Innovative approaches are required to meet women’s empowerment goals and targets in the country.

“This report aims to identify priorities and strategies for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe.”

The report consolidated information on gender gaps and drivers of inequality in human endowments, economic opportunities, ownership and control of assets and voice and agency.

“The report also seeks to identify promising practices that can be replicated and scaled, and which can be effectively cascaded across all geographic regions in the country,” it said.

Insufficient resources to the Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development ministry were highlighted as major stumbling blocks.

The WB added that programme implementation of gender policies had been hampered by siloed approaches, capacity limitations and high staff turnover rates.

This, according to the bank, had impeded the government’s ability to effectively adopt new gender policies and implement existing ones.

“To address these challenges, there is a need for improved integration and monitoring of gender targets across various government levels, as well as enhanced co-ordination and alignment among ministries and with stakeholders from the private and non-profit sectors,” the bank said.

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