Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) has advised agricultural equipment manufacturers to produce women-friendly farming machines in order to enhance their productivity in the sector.
ACET Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor, Julius Gatune, said women needed to maximize their potential into machine operations through financial support and technical know-how in operating mechanized farming implements.
Speaking in an interview in Lusaka, Dr. Gatune bemoaned the current status of most mechanical agricultural tools and equipment being utilized by men and relegating women to apply manual labour in their farming activities.
Dr. Gatune further revealed that annually, $68 billion was used by the Africa continent to import food most of which he said could be produced in Africa.
“Achieving gender balance in farming is having access to land, access to cheap technologies and inputs, access to digital access, micro-finance and basic savings and loans, more women as extension officers and more innovative training programmes for them,” he added.
He said Africa had close to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable lands, round sunshine for long growing seasons, expanding markets for foods and a youthful population.
Dr. Gatune said there was need to come up with strategies which would ensure that even small scale farmers adapt to agricultural transformation to agro mechanization and processing.
“There is need to modernize farming by boosting productivity and running farms as modern business, as well as strengthening the links between farms and other economic sectors and in mutually beneficial process whereby farm output supports manufacturing through agro-processing and other sectors support farming by modern manufactured inputs and services” the researcher explained.
Dr. Gatune however, said, there were challenges in accessing land and security of tenure, low farm productivity, farming not profitable, low access to inputs and output markets and finance, weak value chains; storage, transport and aging farming population.
“We have to also fill-in the missing middle-educated youth; farmer education, finance and input, warehouse receipt system and storage, export markets certification-cold storage at airport, processors, supermarkets and government food procurement, large contract farmers.” He added.
Meanwhile, a local agricultural implement firm has observed that many farmers especially women are constrained to migrate from the small-scale level to the emerging medium scale category due to high prices of farm equipment.
SARO Agro Industrial Limited sales officer Best Musunga said that the agro dealership has in response, since set to introduce a credit financing facility for women which the company will be fulfilling with some banks to offer mechanized farm equipment it stocks.
He said the financing facility which is yet to be launched is meant to enhance gender mainstreaming in an efficient and effective way by promoting women and youth participation and economic empowerment through agriculture mechanization.