WOMEN in the communal areas constitute 61 percent of the farmers and provide 70 percent of the labour.
Therefore, it can be noted that the work of women farmers is key to food security.
Most of these women used to be ‘unpaid’ family workers, working 16-18 hours a day, spending 49 percent of their time on agricultural activities and about 25 percent on domestic activities.
However, the opening up of the agriculture sector, through the Land Reform Programme, opened up opportunities for women to be farm owners and contribute meaningfully to the sector.
This has resulted in the rise of women farmers shifting from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.
One such woman who has taken advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural sector is Naume Humbe from Goromonzi District.
Humbe is a holder of a Bsc Agriculture Honours degree in Horticulture.
In the past, beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme have been castigated for lacking the requisite skills and knowledge to drive the agriculture sector.
It is against this backdrop Humbe, who realised that farming was her passion, decided to enrol at a local university to enhance her knowledge on farming.
“Farming has always been my passion and I was motivated to go to school and learn more about farming,” she said.
“My studies enhanced my knowledge and it is these skills that I now apply as I practice farming.”
Humbe, who is yet to be allocated a piece of land, did not let that stop her from farming.
“I do not own a farm, so I decided that in the meantime I will rent a piece of land and practice what I learnt at school,” she said.
“On the piece of land I rented, I managed to put five hectares under maize, two hectares under soya beans and one hectare under sugar beans.”
Humbe said she hoped to get her own land where she would also diversify into horticulture.
“If I have my own piece of land I want to diversify into horticulture and poultry,” she said.
“At the moment I have 100 roadrunner chickens.
“I intend to grow the poultry project but my biggest challenge at the moment is space which is limiting me as I am doing the project at my residential stand in Eastview, Mabvuku, Harare.”
Humbe, who is a member of the College Agriculture Graduates Association of Zimbabwe (CAGOZ), thanked the association for its continued support.
“It was through CAGOZ that I got the idea to rent land as I wait to acquire my own piece of land,” she said.
“Also, seeing what my fellow graduates are doing, I was motivated to put my skills to practice and I intend to continue doing my best to contribute to the agriculture sector.”
With more committed farmers like Humbe, Government’s efforts to increase agricultural productivity would be fruitful.
Government is promoting and implementing strategies aimed at revitalising the agricultural sector since the inception of the Second Republic.
This year, the country is anticipating a record maize harvest since the Land Reform Programme with 2,8 million tonnes expected to be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board.
In the 2020/2021 farming season, crop hectarage in the country increased by 23 percent, partly driven by abundant rainfall received this season, early distribution of inputs and support of farmers by Government through programmes such as Pfumvudza.
Last year, Government launched the Agriculture and Food Security System Transformative Strategy which aims at accelerating agriculture production, productivity and growth.
Apart from eliminating food imports that are resulting in a bloated import bill, Government is targeting 40 percent value addition to create about one million jobs and to increase total exports by 60 percent by 2024.
In addition, Government aims to transform about 18 000 small-scale farmers into agricultural entrepreneurs by 2025