08 Sep Agri-Business Woman of the Year Award
gautengonline.gov.za – 2013/08/21
Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza has paid tribute to female farmers who work tirelessly to transform the farming industry in South Africa.
“I would like to salute all the women in farming for being at the forefront of food productivity thereby making a meaningful contribution towards job creation, inclusive economic growth and food security,” said Mayathula-Khoza during the annual Agri-Business Woman of the Year Awards, in Boksburg on Tuesday.
She noted that the link between women and agriculture was crucial as agriculture remained that backbone of the province’s economy.
“Women are the bedrock upon which families are built. We are resolute in our commitment towards the total emancipation of women, and these awards are testament of that resolve,” she said.
MEC Mayathula-Khoza said that agriculture remained an important sector in job creation in the country, adding that through agriculture, the nation was able to ensure food security for families and communities, as well as guarantee that no child went to bed hungry.
“It is also through agriculture that we are able to tackle the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and the growing inequality amongst our people,” she said.
Though Mayathula-Khoza was ecstatic with the participation of women in farming however, she bemoaned the fact that not enough women were participating in the export market.
“I would like to urge women to participate in the export markets by ensuring that at least 60% of their produce is distributed across provincial and international boundaries,” she said.
Overall winner and Best Agri-Business Woman of the Year award (Formal Markets) Ikhwezi Project walked away with R150 000 for winning in both categories.
The project is agricultural co-operative that started in 2006 and is run by five women led by Sindisiwe Sabela said: “it hasn’t been easy, sleepless nights, hard work and we promise that maybe next year we will start exporting”.
Their farm is situated in Boschkop near Cullinan where they farm with organic vegetables on an 8.5ha plot in 10 tunnels and open field.
Currently, she said they produce organic tomatoes which are sold to Woolworths through Qutom farms.
Asked about their future plans, Sabela said there a lot of opportunities in the export market but due to capacity they were still experiencing challenges. “In future we plan on increasing our agricultural produce so as to bridge this gap and this we will also do by working with other female farmers,” she said.
The theme for this year’s awards was “harnessing women’s talent for sustainable food security (A vision beyond 2030)”
The awards have eight categories that appeal to progressive agribusiness and encouraging food security, value chain activities as well as trade and export.
The categories are Best Female Worker; Best Homestead Food Garden; Best Community Project: Food Gardens and Poultry; Best Young/Disabled Agri-Business Woman of the Year; Best Agri-Business Woman of the Year: Informal Markets (Livestock); Best Agri-Business woman of the Year: Formal Markets (livestock and crops); Best Agri-Business Woman of the Year: Export markets; Best Agri-Business Woman of the Year: Processing and the Overall Winner.
The Agri-Business Woman of the Year Awards is an annual event where women are rewarded for their contribution they have made in agricultural sector.
It was initiated in 1999 by the national Department of Agriculture for the nine provinces, with the aim of empowering women in agriculture by recognising their contribution and increasing their visibility.
It will culminate in the national Agri-Business Woman awards which will be held on Friday, 23 August 2013 at St George Hotel in Irene.