An increasing number of South African women are helping government fight poverty and create jobs through their involvement in farming.
Over the years, government through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has developed programmes aimed at empowering women in farming. One of these is the Female Entrepreneur Awards formerly known as the Female Farmer Awards.
The awards reward the efforts and contribution of women, young women and women with disabilities in matters of food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation in the sector. Since its inception in 1999, the programme has seen over 2 000 women farmers participate in the awards.
Vuk’uzenzele caught up with one of the women who is climbing up the ranks in the farming sector and was a winner at the Female Entrepreneur Awards.
Thandeka Moseki of Stella in North West tells us that her journey so far has not been easy but with the experience gained over the past few years she is confident that things can only get better.
Moseki was named the Best Subsistence Producer at the provincial Female Entrepreneur Awards. .
This category is for beginners in the sector who demonstrate innovative and creative methods for improving food production, job creation and economic development. Moseki received R75 000 in prize money, a trophy and a certificate of recognition.
After taking top honours in the North West she went on to compete at the national awards where she won in the same category and pocketed R150 000, a certificate and trophy. She also won R500 000 worth of infrastructure.
Moseki started farming in 2011 after she bought Grootverdriet Farm 310 (Dirkiesrus) outside Stella. She does mixed farming, rearing small and large livestock units and produces vegetable crops that include spinach, tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, cabbages and citrus.
Moseki said she did not think that she would get this far with her farming career especially because she made many mistakes in the beginning.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, from not knowing when and what to plant and mixing the wrong chemicals, but now I have a clear idea of what I’m doing,” she said with a smile.
She sells her produce to local shops, at pay points, schools and donates some to a local crèche. Moseki employs six people on the 36 hectare farm. The farm is home to 52 sheep, 18 lambs and 25 cows and has a borehole for irrigation and drinking water for her livestock.
Though she is working her way up the ranks, Moseki said the difficulties she has faced included access to capital, access to markets and being undermined by other farmers. These are just some of the obstacles that women farmers face.
“These challenges motivate me and I will try by all means to work hard and make this a success. Challenges build me and make me a better person and I think it’s good that I’m dealing with them now while I’m still new in the field.”
She said she would use the R500 000 to make some improvements to the farm.
“That money from the department is meant to help with improving the infrastructure and that’s what I will use it for.”
Since winning at the awards, Moseki has been hard at work improving her knowledge. She has attended a course on dealing with chicken broilers and recently attended a department-funded course on marketing.
“These courses have been helpful because I want to get into the business of selling chickens. The marketing aspect of the course I’ve been attending has also helped me and I’m learning from it.”
She said one of the ingredients of her success so far has been hard work, dedication and mentorship from her neighbouring farmers.
“They have been very helpful, I’ve got all their contact numbers and they said I can call any time if I need help.”
And help, they have. She recalls how her neighbour helped her choose the right chemical for potatoes.
She said farmers should stop relying too much on government and should step up and do things for themselves.
“We cannot all wait for government to do things for us; we must also play our part and know that government does not owe us anything.”
Moseki said in the next five years, she would like to export to the international market, a dream she is willing to work hard to realise.
“Let’s follow in the footsteps of our leaders who fought for our liberation. It is our turn to fight for our economy and create jobs,” she urged.
Farmers who have Moseki’s determination can help South Africa deal with the challenges of poverty and feed the nation.