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Farmer defies odds

Written by Siya Miti

Women's Month

Female farmer Philiswa Fadana (54) is living proof that it is possible to rise above difficult circumstances.

Last month Fadana earned a spot in the Eastern Cape Female Farmer of the Year awards, after taking top accolades in the Amathole District Municipality leg of the competition.

Speaking to Vuk’uzenzele from her butchery in East London shortly after the awards, Fadana said her career as a regional manager of a leading bank was cut short by a disability caused by a car accident in 2009.

The accident left her unable to speak above a whisper or to drive long distances, both of which were essential to executing her duties efficiently at her bank job.

The mother of four turned to farming to make a living – a trade she said has been her passion since childhood, thanks to her grandmother.

Fadana and her husband own and run the Woodberry Farm in Haga-Haga, near East London, which they got with help from the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.

Woodberry Farm has been running since 2012, breeding cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry and producing fruit, maize and macadamia nuts.

Fadana said farming has proved to have its own challenges, especially when trying to get into the commercial space.

“So I decided to open up this butchery in May this year so that we can slaughter and sell our own meat to the public. The prize money will go towards expanding the butchery,” she said.

She is due to compete with farmers from various districts in the provincial awards, to be held at the end of this month.

“I was very excited to win. I am starting to realise my dream. When I became disabled after an accident I could not work and had to be medically boarded. I got into farming because I grew up in farming and my husband is also passionate about farming,” said Fadana.

Her aim is to grow her business along much of the value chain in livestock farming.

“In future I would like to have my own abattoir. I am optimistic and I will find a way to make this happen.”

 Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane congratulated all the district winners.

 “The awards keep giving female farmers an opportunity to grow their businesses in a way that proves beyond a doubt that women are capable of running successful agriculture enterprises,” said Qoboshiyane. 

 Winners of each district category will automatically qualify for the provincial competition to be held this month, where the best performing farmers will be anounced.