‘If you ate today, thank a farmer.’ It goes without saying that it doesn’t matter who you are, we all need farmers to survive.
We may have different eating habits and preferences; some are vegans, whilst others cannot do without their steak. On the other hand some need their organic tea, whilst others have to have their daily dose of caffeine. The clothes on your back made from cotton, shoes made from leather and that addictive smoking habit, we have to thank the farmer for all that and more.
Yet we take for granted some of the challenges that the farmers encounter for us to have a reliable supply of food, tobacco and cotton. Some of the problems faced by farmers on the African continent include diminishing harvests due to climate change, land degradation, droughts, lack of capital/financial support, lack of information and training.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries came up with an idea to support and acknowledge the sacrifices made by subsistance farmers through the DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards. The initiative was conceptualised to encourage and increase the participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.
Furthermore, the initiative is aimed at rewarding the efforts and contributions of women, youth and people with disabilities in matters of food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation. DAFF FEA is a joint venture between DAFF, provinces and key stakeholders in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors commencing at a provincial level and culminating in the main event at national level.
At the 15th DAFF FEA awards held in partnership with Total South Africa at the Durban Botanical Gardens on 27 August 2015, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Mr. Senzeni Zokwana applauded the farmers for their work and perseverance. He highlighted that women play a significant role in economic subsistence of their families providing them with shelter, producing food, acting as primary caregivers, preparing meals for their families, walking long distances to fetch firewood and water, and the list continues.
“If the farmer is poor, so is the whole country,” says a Polish proverb. Total South Africa’s Managing Director & CEO: Christian des Closières commended the women in the agricultural sector for the role they play in food security, job creation and contributing towards the economy of the country. He said that female farmers overcame insurmountable odds and turned agriculture into thriving businesses.
The awards ceremony was also attended by Deputy Minister: Bheki Cele, South Africa’s First Lady: Ms. Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo, MEC Andries Gamede and the Director General: Edith Vries. Here are the category winners:
- Best Female Worker in the Sector: Kelebogile Reah Mampe
- Best Subsistence Producer in the Sector: Tenjiwe Christina Kaba
- Top Entrepreneur in the Sector: Smallholder: Nompumelelo Mdlalose
- Top Entrepreneur Processing in the Sector: Julia Shungube
- Top Female Entrepreneur in the Sector: Commercial is Hlengiwe Hlophe
- Top Entrepreneur in the Sector: Export Markets: Buyiswa Marrie Ndyenga
The Minister’s Special Award for Disabled Entrepreneur went to Avryl Cox. This award affords the Minister an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of young women and women living with disabilities who are entrepreneurs. The Minister’s Special Award for Youth went to Nompumelelo Mdlalose. This award recognises emerging young farmer entrepreneurs.
The 2015/16 Overall Winner is Julia Shungube from Mpumalanga. She will be in this position until August 2016, when the new overall winner will be announced.
“Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables, preserved our landscape, and inspired us with a powerful work ethic,” said James H. Douglas Jr.
By Tafadzwa Fortune Ndiyamba. Source: Ecoforum Africa
Tafadzwa Fortune Ndiyamba is a media practitioner and environmentalist. He is the Founder and Editor in Chief of EcoForum Africa, which is a network of environmental media, organisations and individuals with a passion for environment and sustainability.