“Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger,” said Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
Saturday is National Women’s Day, where we commemorate contributions by women in South Africa to improving the lives of others.
Sphiwe Machika, a young female farmer (29), from Rethabiseng in Bronkhorstspruit, is one of these inspirational women who Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is working with.
Sphiwe won the Provincial Female Farmer of the Year Award and the National Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award for her excellent work at Rethabiseng Sustainable organic farm.
Sphiwe Machika, born in Rethabiseng Bronkhorstspruit, went to school in Zithobeni where she completed up to Grade 10. She worked at Kandustrial Solid Door from 2004, as a packer and struggled to make ends meet and support her and her daughter as a single parent.
Her career in agriculture began in 2012 when she heard of an employment opportunity at Rethabiseng Sustainable Farm and began working in the fields. In just a few months she was put in charge of managing the free range chickens. She was responsible for feeding, monitoring growth, maintaining hygiene and selling the produce.
“Her excellent behaviour, discipline and work ethics lead to her name being submitted by the beneficiaries for the Best Young Farmer of the Year 2013,” said Lawrence Tshuma, an FTFA Ecopreneur. “Following her success at this level, she was subsequently nominated for the Provincial Female Farmer of the Year Award and the National Female Entrepreneur Award, where she was victorious once again,” Lawrence continued.
When ask what all this meant to her, Sphiwe was humble in her response, “I think I was just lucky. I never knew my work here would take me to this level. I also want to invest some of my prize for my daughter so that she can have better education than I had. I wish to have my own chicken farm one day and continue to use the skills that I learnt at Rethabiseng Sustainable Farm”.
“Women make significant contributions to the rural economy in all developing country regions. Increasing women’s access to land, livestock, education, financial services, extension, technology and rural employment would boost their productivity and generate gains in terms of agricultural production, food security, economic growth and social welfare,” reports the FAO.
FTFA’s FEED programme empowers women like Sphiwe through agriculture. Many of the farmers who work at the FEED projects are women. The majority of these women are working hard to improve not only their own life, but the life of those around them, with each women supporting three beneficiaries at home.
For more information about FTFA’s FEED project, please contact 011 656 9802 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.