OPINION & ANALYSIS
s we end national Women’s Month
in South Africa, it is fitting to
take some time to reflect on the
involvement of women in the agriculture
sector. While women have always been
part of agricultural activities, in recent
years we have witnessed a number of
women in South Africa, particularly
young women, seeking opportunities
to get into commercial farming.
As such, many are making significant
contributions to the South African
agricultural economy, employment creation
and ensuring their families, communities
and more broadly, South Africa, remains
a food basket for the continent.
History has taught us that South African
women are amongst the most powerful and
influential women in the world, whether
they are in academia, aviation, banking,
the judiciary, media, medicine, mining,
business in general or agribusiness.
South African women have proved
over and over again that they deserve
to be given the same recognition and
opportunities as their male counterparts.
Furthermore, many women farmers
are actively involved in advocacy groups
and other organisations dedicated to
improving farming and advocating for
more access for other women in the sector.
Women are also driving innovation in
agriculture and are helping create new
ways of farming in cities. For example,
most of the new-generation farming
techniques, such as growing hydroponic-
based rooftop crops in inner cities,
are farming models driven mostly by
women, farming together in groups.
As a result, the potential growth
these new-generation farmers bring
is being noticed by banks and other
organisations that have an interest in the
agriculture sector, including retailers.
It is widely known that women have less
access to resources than men. Closing this
gender gap is essential in order to accelerate
the pace of growth in the sector. From what
we have witnessed over the years and in
recent times, it is clear that if more female
farmers can be provided with adequate and
sufficient resources, we are assured of not
only a food secure future in South Africa
and in our communities, but also economic
growth that is stable and sustainable.
While the empowerment of women
in agriculture will certainly go a
long way in improving growth in the
agricultural economy, it will not be
complete without empowering women
who are living in communal areas.
Like many women in the country, most
of the women living in these areas have
no access to land for production.
This is despite the fact that these
women work in small community
gardens to ensure that their families and
communities have food on the table.
Unfortunately, these are the farmers in
the country whose voices often go unheard,
due to their sex, and due to patriarchal
traditions and gender socialisation.
If we are to realise the dream of a
new dawn in South Africa, the voices
of women need to be heard at both the
policy and implementation levels.
It is therefore our fundamental
responsibility as the private sector, civil
society and government to make sure that
women in agriculture, including those
living in communal areas, are provided
with the necessary resources that empower
and support them to be key food providers
for their families and communities.
WOMEN MUST BE
PROVIDED WITH THE
RESOURCES TO BECOME
KEY FOOD PRODUCERS
12 farmer’sweekly 23 AUGUST 2019