More support for North West female farmers

MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development in the North West Province

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MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development in the North West Province Ms. Manketsi Tlhape has encouraged female farmers to take a lead in the sustainable development agenda and to take full advantage of programmes aimed at empowering them offered by government and its entities
Tlhape has also reassured female farmers of her department’s commitment to continue supporting their agricultural businesses.

She said this during the 19th annual DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards (FEA) ceremony held in Rustenburg of North West province.

The FEA programme is a joint venture between the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, the provinces, and key partners in the sector aimed at honouring female farmers, recognising their role in the sector and their entrepreneurial skills in the mainstream agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The major thrust of the programme is to underline the fact that women play a significant role in food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation.

This year’s competition saw hundreds of female farmers entering and competing in various categories including that of best female worker, best subsistence producer, top entrepreneur – smallholder, top entrepreneur —commercial, and top entrepreneur—export markets.

The main winner of the competition is Lefakong Farming, taking both Top Entrepreneur – Processing as well as the Overall Winner prize for the 2018 provincial DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards.

Lefakong Farming specialises in Moringa. The cooperative is located in Moretele in Bojanala Platinum District Municipality. The enterprise has a great passion for health and wellness and has invested in the quality assurance and true organic nature of Moringa; which can be processed into tea, powder and many other forms of natural health foods.

It was established in 2015 as a family cooperative and they have been receiving extension and advisory services from the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development and the national Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry.

The Founder and Director of Lefakong Farming Cooperative, Ms. Maboang Matlou, said she was happy to win both the awards. “I am glad that I have won,” she said.

Elated, Matlou further revealed that her cooperative uses 100% organic methods to produce the Moringa crop, harvest and agro-process the crop on-site at their farm in Bosplaas. “We currently supply large companies for export purposes and health nutritional stores in and around the province. Our long term goal focuses mainly on ways to value-add our product for introduction into sectors of businesses,” she said.

Other winners:

Best Female Worker: Kedibone Elisa Itumeleng—A Product packager at Bloemheuwel Boerdery Trust in Christiana (Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District). The farm specialises in vegetables production. Daily duties for this dedicated farm worker include packing of products for market, harvesting, grading products and record keeping.

Best Subsistence Producer: Sis Ratos Business Trading from Ngaka Modiri Molema District. Sis Ratos Business trading is a mix farming enterprise. The farm produces sunflower, groundnuts, and maize. They also have livestock and produce vegetables.

Top Entrepreneur Small Holder Award Healthy: Life for Achievers Enterprise from Bojanala Platinum District Municipality. The enterprise specialises in the production and supply of oranges.

Top Entrepreneur Commercial Award: Thandolwabo Services (PTY) LTD from Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality. The enterprise specialises in cattle farming.

The MEC’s Special Award was awarded to LMC Farms from Bojanala Platinum District Municipality. The farm specializes in sunflower production.

In 2019, the DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards programme will be celebrating 20 years in the North West province.

MEC Tlhape said if women participate in economic activity, own and control productive assets it leads to development by helping to overcome poverty, reducing inequality and improving children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance.

“If women and men have the equal access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets, the consequent 20-30 per cent increase in agricultural production on women’s farms could lead to 100-150 million less hungry people,” Tlhape said.

The objectives of the FEA programme are consistent with the vision of the National Development Plan, which makes particular reference to the empowerment of women and their involvement in the country’s economic transformation.

The programme has been identified by the national government as a tool that will encourage female and new entrants, young and old, those with disabilities, and small and medium enterprises to enter the agricultural sector. The process for nominations and entries for the provincial 2018 DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards kicked-off in May this year and the closing date for entries was 15 July 2018.

MEC Tlhape encouraged emerging farmers and those struggling with finances to visit the North West Agricultural Fund (NWAF) office. The NWAF is mandated to provide funding to aspiring farmers in respect of agricultural development, with a particular emphasis on previously disadvantaged individuals who cannot access funding from the commercial banks.

She asserted that for economic empowerment of women to be realised, there was a need to invest in infrastructure beneficial to women, increasing their role in policy-making and guaranteeing their rights to sexual and reproductive health, property ownership, inheritance and equality in employment. Besides the benefits to society of investing in women, she said, the most important fact was that women have the right to live in dignity and with freedom from want and fear.

Tlhape said FEA has a long-term ambition of leveraging women entrepreneurs from being subsistence and smallholder producers to commercial entrepreneurs who also venture into export markets.

The North West province has prioritised agriculture that will remain the backbone of its economic growth. This is in line with President Ramaphosa’s observation that Agriculture represents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs. The Department is determined to deliver on agricultural transformation, enhance efficiencies, and improve production for the advancement of growth.

The province is currently known as an important food basket of South Africa and the region. Also known for livestock farming, by no stroke of coincidence, the province is sometimes referred to as the Texas of South Africa. The North West agriculture sector contributes a substantial 26.4% towards the economic growth of the country. Hence Agriculture is of extreme importance to us.

As highlighted in the Provincial Budget Speech 2018/2019, the number of people employed in the Agricultural Sector has increased from 34 000 workers in 2012 to about 48 000 by the end of 2016 which accounts for 14 000 additional jobs.

This year, over R5.9 million has been spent on this programme to develop women in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

All runner-up projects of the awards will be placed under departmental after-care programme for mentorship. 

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