Mpumalanga honours the pioneering spirit of female farmers
 
6 August 2009, Nkangala District Municipality - Mpumalanga
     

 

From small backyard gardens to large hectares of land, women are tilling the land to feed the nation. It is for this reason that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries initiated the Female Farmer Awards in 1999 to recognise the contribution of women in the agricultural sector. This year marks the10 th anniversary of the awards. As part of Women's Month celebrations, the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration (DARDLA) celebrated the Female Farmer Awards on the 6 th August in Nkangala District Municipality .

The MEC of DARDLA, Meshack Masinga said the awards aim to recognise women who try to make a living to feed the nation. “This task is a major one that requires social commitment and innovative thinking, because these women are not only doing it for themselves but are feeding the nation”, he stated. He also encouraged financial institutions to assist female farmers to finance their enterprises.

“We may fall while pulling and pushing in the farms but we'll get up, shake it off and continue”, said Nomvula Maya, chairperson of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD) in Mpumalanga . She was encouraging female farmers to continue farming and not be discouraged by the challenges they encounter along the way. She also said that they must consult the department and officials when they need assistance.

     
 

The competition consists of five categories namely, Top Producer for Export Markets, Top Producer for National Markets, Top Producer for Informal Markets, Top Producer for Household Consumption-Backyard Gardens and Top Producer for Household Consumption-Communal Gardens .

Winners in the Top Producer for Household Consumption-Backyard gardens projects were Thabaneng vegetable project, Top Producer for Household Communal Gardens projects was Senzokuhle Vegetable Project, Top Producer for Informal Markets was Sibiya Tozi (animal production), Top Producer for National Markets was Mathebula CPA, and Top Producer for Export Markets was Jacklin Organic Farm. All the winners in the different categories walked away with a cheque of R40 000 each.

DARDLA has added its own category to recognise and encourage youth participation in the agricultural sector called Young Aspirant Farmers. The winner in the category was the 21-year-old Constance Shongwe. The overall Female Farmer Award winner was Avena Jacklin. She owns Jacklin Organic Farm at Badplaas which produces certified organic food products such as organic salad greens, chillies, sweet potato, and herbs. She said that she aspires to build a packhouse to dry her produce and have more arable hectares for her organic produce. Presently only 10 ha are arable for organic produce. She will be competing with other winners from all the 9 provinces at the national Female Farmer Awards on 29 August in the Free State.