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Women in agriculture deserve so much more

As women’s month draws an end, we will simply forget about women’s contribution to agriculture.

Suppose when the current Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza introduced the female farmers awards in her first stint at the department, the point was to maybe underline the role women play in the chain of food security.

Over the years, it seems these awards had inspired a new sort of youth female generation, ready to overtake the sector. New young faces appear in magazine covers ranging from agriculture science, engineering, policy, economics and agribusiness, pulling the bull by its horn.

But their role was understated to some level. At the recent launch of Tsar Beef Farm by the KZN MEC for MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, her remarks painfully hit home.

“These are the women that dispel the general narratives that woman cannot do it for themselves, that farming is in white men’s genes, that running business is in the male

genes and that it was better off during apartheid government,” Sithole-Moloi said.

Sithole-Moloi, was referring to Lindokuhle Ngubane, owner of Tsar Beef Farm, who started off with a few livestock and employees. She now proudly owns 120 cows, 8 bulls, 60 sheep, 100 weaners in her stable.

Such strides by women were not only inspiring but warranted for a broader discussion; land and access to finance for women only.

Sithole-Moloi further added; “This launch of a 100% black women-owned farm affirms that women have the power to change their situations. They deserve land as a matter of urgency to ensure that programmes developed by the government are implemented successfully.”

The Global Fund for Women put it succinctly; “women are the backbone of agriculture and food production in Africa, supporting its population by producing 80% of its food. But African women farmers are excluded from conversations that determine agricultural policies, while discriminatory laws and practices deprive them of their land, their rights, and their livelihoods.”

One thinks about Moringa pioneers like Mavis Mathabatha, who brought the seed plant from Malawi to help feed children suffering from malnutrition at her school. Today, the tree is so popular that her contribution has been erased.   

Yet again, how many Mavis Mathabatha are there, that have brought innovation and leadership to this country but were not reaping any rewards? Gone are the days of hosting talk shops, legislation for women in agriculture was needed as a matter of urgency.

Sithole-Moloi parting philosophy agreed with this principle when she said that it was unfair, that while the women were a majority within the agricultural sector, they still remained at the periphery of the economy and land allocation. 

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