Women ‘main beneficiaries’ of South Africa initiative for smallholder farmers
The Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme was launched by Tina Joemat-Pettersson, minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, last week.
She explained that the project will involve non-governmental organisation TechnoServe SA acting as an intermediary between smallholder farmers and international retail company Massmart.
As well as having supply contracts in place for their produce, farmers on the scheme will also receive training, mentoring and technical assistance.
According to Joemat-Pettersson, the majority of the farmers who will benefit from the programme are women, mainly black women.
The project launch coincides with the start of the country’s Women’s Month, celebrated throughout August.
Lulu Xingwana, minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, highlighted the advances that have been made over the past two decades – but also emphasized that huge changes are still needed.
She said: “Women continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities, the labour market as well as access to land, credit, and finance.
“In addition, a life of abuse, discrimination and violation of human rights remain the harsh reality for the majority of the women in our country.”
In particular, she spoke about the need to facilitate women’s access to land, and said this would be a priority for her own department, in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.