Twenty — nine female smallholder farmers at Siyalima Farm in Guruve have been engaged by the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), to transform them into commercial farmers at the same time tackling gender inequality, gender-based violence and child marriages.
Siyalima Farm is a resettlement area located in the eastern part of Guruve in Ward 1 and has 50 hectares of irrigable land, with 157 communal farmers, 29 of them being women.
The Siyalima Irrigation Scheme was launched by President Mnangagwa in February 2018.
DAPP acting director Mr Luckson Soda said the six-month project is funded by Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI).
He said the Siyalima community was patriarchal with high male dominance, while women were contending with a number of challenges, including poor access to means of production and markets.
"The project seeks to address strongly embedded agricultural gender inequalities with women and girls bearing the brunt of this state of affairs at Siyalima Farm.
"Despite women's crucial roles in household food security, they face discrimination and limited bargaining power at both household and community level," he said.
Mr Soda said patriarchal norms create disadvantages for women farmers, specifically with regards to accessing productive resources including credit, extension services, inputs, information and markets.
Exclusion of women and girls from decision making and leadership positions increases their dependence on men, added Mr Soda.
"Women's productivity is severely constrained by the fragmentation of their time, their dual and triple responsibilities, and their lack of access to essential inputs including knowledge, thus increasing their vulnerability to social and economic shocks," said Mr Soda.
"Within the household, because of weaker bargaining positions they have no say in the distribution of income and resources. The goal of the project is to promote gender equality in the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.
"The project institutes gender sensitive actions that promote positive gender outcomes towards the economic empowerment of women farmers at Siyalima Farm."
The project is aimed at improving gender equality among smallholder farmer families at Siyalima Farm, through transformational capacity building and advocacy.
Mr Soda said capacity strengthening and access to the productive resources will help Siyalima women farmers maximise economic opportunities, increase productivity, and improve food security, education and healthcare, since women tend to reinvest more in their households.
Health education and promotion will be integrated in the project with a key focus on HIV, TB and the Covid-19 pandemic to promote the health and well-being of target communities, added Mr Soda.
DAPP's long-term expected target is that Siyalima Farm will be used as a model on how to improve gender equality and women empowerment in smallholder farmer families in Zimbabwe.