The game of agribusiness is usually reserved for men enjoined with inflated egos. It is a rare sight to see women occupying leadership roles in agriculture, particularly in the agribusiness space.
For agribusiness development senior manager at the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), Khumbuzile Mosoma, she is passionate about women development in the agricultural sector.
“Research shows that women comprise 43% of the world’s agricultural labour force, which reaches up to 70% in other countries. In Africa, 80% of agricultural production comes from smallholder farmers which are mostly rural women. Women are responsible for 90% of the hoeing and weeding in food production and responsible for 80% of the work on food storage and transport” she said.
She leads a division that is mainly responsible for developing agricultural schemes, providing technical support, market access facilitation and capacity building facilitation for emerging farmers. In her role, Khumbuzile has managed to expose women, youth and other farmers to various farming business opportunities, even creating a platform for them to travel to international markets
“We have linked farmers with local retailers and fresh produce markets, assisting them to be compliant with Global GAP and other market standards. Moreover, the division I lead was also instrumental in developing the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP 11) that aimed to improve rural logistics and agro-infrastructure.”
The business nature of agriculture subversively excludes women from accessing opportunities. In her experience, all women participating in agriculture in general, had less access to agricultural assets, inputs, services and employment opportunities than men.
Lack of resources to provide comprehensive support for women in agriculture in order to participate in the same business platforms as men was still an unresolved issue.
“Only a handful of industry associations was headed by women, which constrain the voices and needs of women in agricultural decision-making tables. On the land issue – without a title deed, which most women lack, it is difficult for women to access credit” she added.
Clearly gender based studies in agriculture was becoming ever more critical if by the readings of challenges women face in agribusiness. Simply accessing research and information in production and market opportunities was still difficult for many women residing in rural areas.
Khumbuzile also believed that investing in women agribusiness development was necessary to empowers women not to only focus on production “but to tap into other agribusiness components like agro-processing, logistics and food distribution.”
Her exposure to agribusiness development has taught her many things. But the most important of them all, is the need for women to continue educating themselves so as to become experts in their business, as it will empower them emotionally and mentally.
Khumbuzile is one the few female agricultural experts appointed to a panel established by Minister Thoko Didiza to create a new blueprint plan for the sector.