Sixteen women in agriculture in the Eastern Cape reaped what they had been sowing when they won cash prizes at the Female Entrepreneur awards in East London yesterday.
The 16 were chosen out of 2203 women farmers who were assessed throughout the province.
Experts identified farmers who had produced better quality of livestock, wool, vegetables, fruit and poultry.
Rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, briefing the media prior to the glitzy event, said the top 16 represented commercial trading entities like cooperatives and commercial businesses and sold their produce to formal and informal markets.
“These are women who have been in the business, who have established relationships with retailers and have a market for their produce.
“We are so pleased with what we have seen and it is very exciting to see how women are doing in the livestock category.
“Top categories included best female farm worker, best subsistence producer, top producer processing, commercial producer and a special MEC’s award for an extraordinary woman farmer.
“This is a clear indication that the Eastern Cape is the basket for food security in the country and with 4218 registered agricultural entities in the province, 2122 are women-owned entities and 81 commercial farms in the province are owned by women.
Qoboshiyane said the farmers took part in several programmes run by the department and in financial management training sponsored by Old Mutual.
“These are the women who have shown discipline, passion and resilience and we plead with retailers to support them to promote food security locally and to ensure that local jobs are sourced.
DRDAR’s provincial head of department Lumkile Ngada said the majority of people in the province were women.
“During the times when men were working in the mines it was women who were heading the homesteads, tilling the soil and providing food for their children. They were the ones who initially practised agriculture.
“However the technology and machinery needs to be modified to be female friendly, because things like tractors were not designed for the use of women.”
Winners from the provincial awards will represent the province at the national awards scheduled for later this month in Mpumalanga.
Last year Jenecia Janse of Oudrift in the then-Cacadu District won the woman farmer Entrepreneur of the Year award and top export producer, and Philiswa Fadana of Woodbury, Grahamstown, won the minister’s special award as the best performing female farmer living with disability. — firstname.lastname@example.org