The department of rural development and agrarian reform (DRDAR) in Chris Hani rewarded several female farmers for their stellar work in the male-dominated industry at the Thobi Kula Indoor Sport Centre last Friday.
The women received their awards during the department’s Women in Farming district competition, and first prize winners will automatically be entered into the provincial leg to take place on August 14.
One of the first prize winners in the best female worker category, Thandeka Nadyokwe, 44, from Elliot in Sakhisizwe Local Municipality who works at Vulithuba Farm said the win was “very encouraging”.
“I work at a farm which normally plants corn and potatoes. We started farming the land in 2013 but we were officially fully operational about five years ago. The land was previously owned by a white farmer who, when he decided to leave the area left the land for us to use. We have never received any form of assistance from government before, so working a farm from scratch and being rewarded for it is very encouraging. With the money I have won I will buy whatever it is that we need to ensure the farm is sustainable so that we can employ more people.”
Zandisile Business Enterprise owner Babalwa Mkwayi from Sakhisizwe Local Municipality who won first place in the best subsistence farmer category said events meant for the development of women were important, whether she had won or not.
Mkwayi said she was the sole owner of the businesses as she inherited the 3ha of land she farms from her late grandfather who she learned farming from.
“I started farming the land in 2012 as taught by my grandfather. We plant vegetables like carrots, beetroot and cabbage and we also have livestock which includes cattle, sheep and goats. We started by planting vegetables and I saved up the money I got from the sales. I would buy a sheep or two at a time if there was enough money and when I could afford it I bought a cow. We have mixed sheep, some for wool and others for meat. We supply retail companies when we have enough harvest in a season.”
Mkwayi said gone were the days when farming was known to be something for uneducated people because land directly translated to wealth.
“I am where I am because of farming. If you have land you have wealth and are able to sustain yourself because you are making your own money. I have never received any assistance from government so winning this is motivating and will help in buying things like fertiliser which I did not previously use.”
DRDAR director Noluvuyo Nqeno indicated the competition started in 1999 and has grown from strength to strength with more women entering the farming industry.
“The purpose of this competition is to encourage and develop women in farming, whether they are a farm worker, farming for immediate use, farming to sell, commercial farming or export farming, although we do not have that category in this competition yet.”
Nqeno said first prize winners received a cash prize of R15 000 and would be entered into the provincial competition, while second and third prize winners received R5 000 each.
The provincial competition will be held in the Joe Gqabi district on August 14, all winners will participate in the provincial competition . Winner receive even greater prizes. The money that was won altogether was R50 000.