In much of the world, the perception that men still dominate farming exists. Women, however, play an important role in Africa’s agriculture sector, growing about 70% of the continent’s food. The Siyaphambili Women’s Club, a group of mothers and grandmothers from the rural community of Umgababa in KwaZulu-Natal, work tirelessly to defeat hunger and ensure food security through small-scale farming.
The village is situated on the South Coast of KZN, near eThekwini (Durban).
A helping hand
The Siyaphambili Women’s Club consists of 10 women ranging from 40 to over 70 years old and since its formation, the club has participated in various activities to grow and benefit from growing vegetables. They furthermore partnered with one of Africa’s largest supermarket retailers, Shoprite, as part of the group’s ongoing efforts to provide hunger relief for communities in need.
They were also assisted with gardening accessories and 18 months of training to teach them a variety of techniques and to learn beneficial information about farming.
Lindiwe Mthembu, leader of the Siyaphambili Womens Club, says, “We are learning every day about farming through this experience. At the moment, we are planning to grow beans and have been busy preparing enough space for it.”
The members acknowledge the benefits of receiving training on farming. However, they also explain that it has not been very profitable for them due to a limited marketing environment and the rural community they are situated in.
Hunger for more
“The gardens are very beneficial to us, families are being fed and we make a few rands for ourselves here and there, from selling the vegetables. We are still hoping and trying to grow and get more exposure. We hope going forward with our ‘Siyaphambili’ journey, we will be able to sell what we have planted at large scales to supermarkets. Accessing high-value markets would bring us more excitement.
The women also say they have been taught to use what nature provides them with, and being given support by a big retailer has shown them that people actually believe in what they do.
High-value markets – the end goal
“We will continue working hard and will surely reach our goals and access high-value markets,“ Lindiwe says.
Siyamthanda Mngomezulu from the Eastern Cape, who specialises in agricultural management, highlights how women are often caretakers of food and health, thus encouraging women to continue with their contribution to the agricultural sector.
“Women in agriculture are more collaborative and supportive. Women are able to multitask, for example, take care of family duties, and still succeed in farming. I, therefore, encourage other women to participate in agriculture, because there are lots of opportunities that are dedicated to women in farming. The future is secured for them and there are funds allocated for them by the department of agriculture for things such as products, leasing land, training, and various other outputs,” she concludes.
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