By Obed Makgoale
The day prior the official National Women’s Day (8 August 2019) saw the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, engaging proactively on dialogue with women in agriculture. These are the women who own and manage farms, projects and co-operatives, allocated to them by the department. Accompanying the deputy minister was the Limpopo MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms Nandi Ndalane.
Over 100 women from rural areas crammed into the conference hall at the Protea Ranch Hotel, to interact directly with the decision makers on the future of the allocated farms, project and co-operatives supported by the department.
The dialogue gave women beneficiaries a chance to tell a story of extreme high probability of going commercial in their farming endeavors. The event was part of the Women’s Month activities of government.
These women are the beneficiaries of the department under the services such as Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RADP), Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development (REID) and Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) amongst others.
On the day, women farmers who specialise on livestock (cattle), crops (vegetables) and pigs, amongst others, echoed their happiness and appreciation of the massive investments they received, saying they welcome the chance to create a better life for their families and the country at large.
The women further gave credit to the deputy minister and the MEC for availing themselves to listen to their success stories and challenges.
Engaging with the deputy minister during dialogue, Ms Fridah Manoko Senyatsi from Moletjie, a livestock farmer specialising in cattle, praised the services of the department through the officials. She acknowledged the help and service delivery standards afforded to her by the officials from the first day when she entered the department to look for help and up to today, when she is focusing on reaching the status of being a commercial farmer. She indicated that started to work the farm with approximately 30 to 40 cattle and today she is seating at 300 cattle. Encouraging fellow farmers, Ms Manoko said “perseverance is key to farmers, although it is not easy.
You have to be committed and not look back, look forward”. She further advised fellow farmers to stop saying our government is not working. “Let us stop expecting services to come to us while we are seating at the corner. We should knock at the government’s doors and the doors will be opened!”
Addressing the women farmers, the Deputy Minister Skwatsha quoted the giant, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo, who once said; “a nation will never be free until its women are free”. He further motivated women to continue working very hard and assisting the government to achieve its quest to address the triple challenges of our country, which are poverty, unemployment and inequality. “Let the sky be your limit,” echoed the deputy minister.
Prior to the engagement dialogue, the deputy minister conducted an oversight visit to a farm Papkuil 855 LS, which is owned and managed by a woman, Ms Machaka. The farm Papkuil was acquired under the Land Reform Programme, through the PLAS, at a cost of R2.7 million. In an effort to develop the farm, the department invested infrastructure worth about R4.3 million for over a period of three years, for the production inputs, infrastructure costs, implements, equipment and machinery.