The Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is nearing the end of their month long search for the provinces’ top female farmers. Since its inception the Department established the annual Female Entrepreneur Awards in 1999, to reward the tireless efforts and contributions of women, youth and women living with disabilities in the agricultural sector.
The Female Entrepreneur Awards are aimed at recognizing the countless efforts of women through the agricultural sector, in the alleviation of poverty through food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation. Departmental spokesperson Mr Phemelo Manankong has praised the awards for not only recognizing the efforts of women in agriculture, but also affording them the platform to make a name for themselves in the industry. “The department wants to encourage, women, youth and women with disabilities to participate in the male-dominated industry and grow from subsistence farmers to commercial farmers. We want to see these women flying through the different categories they have ventured into,” added Mr Manankong.
One of the 24 women in the province soaring through the agricultural sector is 41-year-old Keimoes native and Honey Harvester – Ms Jana Du Plesis. Ms Du Plesis has been farming for her entire life and prides her extensive farming knowledge on her father and those who came before her. She believes she is deserving of the award because of her tenacious spirit and willingness to overcome obstacles that have been placed before her in the predominately male industry. “If you look at the ratio of men and women in the farming industry, it’s quite imbalanced and a lot of people look down on women in farming.
My advice to prospective female farmers is that you should use your strong will and patience to get ahead. If you start and you fail, get back up and start again, do your planning and apply for assistance at the department. A lot of people say oh you’re a woman there’s no way you can do it, but just ignore them and carry on,” Ms Du Plesis said. Ms Du Plesis is just one of 14 out of 24 candidates the department has visited thus far. “I’m an example for women in my community and I go out of my way to ensure that my employees are well taken care of,” she further added. The search for the top female farmers will be completed in the Francess Baard district by the end of this month.