In this Women’s Month, Mzansi Agriculture Talk tracks some of the winners of the Female Farmer of the Year. For a number of years, debates surrounding this prestigious event has largely been formed around the failures versus the success of these awards, and not entirely on extended support received after the pomp and ceremony had faded.
Deep in the vineyard valleys of the Northern Cape, Elise Beukes, a retired teacher shares her own testimony on the support she has received since winning the 2008 NC Female Farmer of the Year. She is one of the female farmers belonging to the Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC), a community program that produces raisins and grapes on 2000 hectare.
“Being recognised as one of the female farmers of the year really boosted and propelled my farming operations,” she says.
Her home is filled with memorabilia of her agricultural certificates and recognition. She proudly hoists the 2008 R50 000 cheque she had received as female farmer of the year Top Producer for Exports Markets.
She has an office in her house and daily monitors progress of her farm operations, and one might say really runs a fairly tight ship. “At the Agri Academy I attended and funded by the government, we were taught that one must always be on top of things, check every detail of your operation from the office to the farm,” she adds.
Outside her yard, lies a 20 hectare vineyard, which has a water canal running through it. Elise lectures us on the process of planting until harvesting. She is someone that really catches on fast and seemed very passionate about what she does.
Recently, she was part of the Raisins SA training, where she acquired the resources and skills to plant grape cultivars that could mitigate against climate change.
“We were trained on using new cultivars to mitigate against impacts of climate change like drought and rainfall variability. Our government female farmer coordinator Keolebogile Segotsane has been tremendous in providing support in this instance and walking with us in this area of technological enhancement of farms.”
Meeting market requirements was one of the toughest and most challenging aspect for female farmers’ claims Keolebogile.
“Sometimes it is how this information should be relayed to farmers and you as a coordinator being able to deliver it in the most understandable manner,” she adds.
Elise praise for Keolebogile is heartwarming as she asserts that the young lady has been a source of resolve and eyes to ensure she produces a top product.
“Youth must get involved in agriculture. I am particularly encouraged when I see young coordinators using their knowledge, they have gained to make us successful. If our youth can get into agriculture, there will be plenty of jobs,” she directs.
Clearly for Elizse, she was proud that more female farmers like her and those upcoming should be recognised, so as to inspire others to start of farming.