The contributions of women in farming to the political economy of Zimbabwe: A focus on women in A1 and A2 farming models (2000-2016).
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This study examined the contributions of A1 and A2 black women farmers, who benefitted from Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP), to the political economy of the country for the period 2000 up to 2016. The study focuses on samples from the four provinces of Matabeleland South, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East and from four districts from each of these provinces which were purposively selected. The study was anchored on both the political economy and the feminist theoretical approaches which embody important concepts such as power, patriarchy and empowerment which are central to issues related to women’s access to land and subsequent agrarian activities. To ascertain the women farmers’ contributions to the political economy of Zimbabwe through their constant engagement of both conventional challenges and contemporary constraints, the study adopted a qualitative approach with key informant interviews, direct observation, documentary analysis and focus group discussions as the techniques and tools for the generation of data with a view to grasping and assessing those factors that impacted on women in agriculture. The study’s participants were selected using purposive and snowball sampling techniques. Content and thematic analyses were used as the data analysis methods. The findings of the study revealed that the major turning point in access to land for women came through the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) where 18% were allocated land under the A1 model and 12% under the A2 model. From the women who participated in the study, 67.7% managed to access land in their own right in both A1 and A2 farming models. However, it was noted that these women farmers had limited access to land due to power related issues; mainly the ‘power to’, ‘power with’, ‘power within’ and ‘power over’ situations which limited their contributions to the political economy of Zimbabwe. Although women’s access to land was limited, it still enabled them to participate in various agricultural activities such as crop and animal production and the marketing of their varied produce. The nature and extent of the contributions of the women participants to the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe’s political economy in this study was seen through their production of food grain crops, mainly maize (97.7%), cash crops, primarily tobacco (43%) and livestock, mostly cattle (11% in A1 and 10% in A2 farming models). Despite women’s significant contributions to Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, their efforts remained largely unrecognised as they were not fully integrated into many agricultural programmes. Although there were various institutional, legislative and policy frameworks that promoted women’s participation in agriculture, which included domestic, regional and international frameworks, the effectiveness of some of these frameworks was found to be limited due to varying reasons, amongst them the failure to ratify, domesticate and adopt these frameworks fully. The assumption here is that women are key players in agriculture but their roles have not been properly and fully assessed. Where such assessments have been done, they ignore the fact that women’s full capacity is not being realised because of the obstacles they encountered such as limited access to production resources, limited access to agricultural financing and lack of access to markets. In dealing with these obstacles, women farmers employed methods such as group farming, self-financing and sidemarketing. Among many other things, the lack of support for women’s contributions through agriculture was a hindrance to the attainment of women’s empowerment which was central to their ability to make meaningful contributions to the political economy of the country through agriculture. In order to address the challenges encountered by the xxvi A1 and A2 women farmers, the researcher argues that policy makers must come up with deliberate policies which empower women through increasing their access to land and access to finance. It is further recommended that there should be the development of adequate and necessary infrastructure to help both A1 and A2 black women farmers. The study concluded that ‘women’s contributions to the political economy of Zimbabwe were hindered by a number of factors which predominantly revolved around societal and patriarchal power-relations and to improve women participation and in the process develop the full potential of the agricultural sector, women farmers need various forms and levels of capacitation; namely their recognition as capable farmers, agricultural financing, access to inputs, farm mechanisation and an improved tenure system.
Additional Citation InformationBungu , O. (2019). The contributions of women in farming to the political economy of Zimbabwe: A focus on women in A1 and A2 farming models (2000-2016) . [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Zimbabwe.
University of Zimbabwe