By ANNIE ZULU
THERE is need for Government to urgently review policies on agriculture to give priority to rural female farmers, Gender Activist Betty Mumba has said.
Ms Mumba urged Government to initiate programmes that would target women to increase their productivity.
She said this had become imperative because available records indicated that women were the backbone of the development of rural and national economies.
She said in spite of the development, gender inequality was still dominant in the agricultural sector and this constitutes a bottleneck to development.
She called for urgent review of Government policies on agriculture to address all the elements that place rural women farmers at a disadvantage.
Ms Mumba said considering the ever-growing population of Zambia and the role of women in feeding the nation, women-in-agriculture must be empowered and given voice to effectively address their challenges.
She said rural women farmers must have better access to farm inputs and credits and that all barriers, which include collateral and discrimination must be addressed to enhance their role.
Ms Mumba said rural women farmers deserved better recognition and greater appreciation of their tangible contributions to agriculture and rural development and food security.
She called on Government to use investment in agricultural technology to redress gender imbalances and to reduce poverty.
“Special focus on women in agriculture with adequate investment strategy will yield a double dividend and increase gender equity at the same time as increasing their overall productivity,” Ms Mumba said.
She also noted that when women are empowered and can claim their rights and access to land, leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.
Ms Mumba also listed factors hampering active involvement of rural women in agricultural production to include inadequate technology, poor extension services, inadequate land, lack of access to credit facilities, cultural/religious restrictions, poor health, lack of adequate infrastructure, access to education and training.