For women to not only make it, but standout out in male-dominated industries like agriculture, they must empower each other and stick together. This was at the heart of a women in agriculture discussion hosted by Food For Mzansi during a recent Gather To Grow session on Twitter.
The session saw women from across the value chain deliberate on issues affecting women in the sector, while highlighting opportunities for new entrants and showcasing their strength and resilience despite gender gaps and inequality.
To be noticed and respected, women still needed to jump through a tonne of hoops, agripreneur Petronella Chizera said during the session.
“It’s a matter of networking. Sometimes you need to take the initiative, meet people on your own and build relationships. Find other women in the industry that can help you know navigate your career,” Chizera said.
She was joined by Lindiwe Dlomo from the Future Farmers Foundation; hydroponic farmer Ika Cronje; technical and marketing executive at Afrivet, Dr Didi Classen; beekeeper Mmabatho Portia Morudi; and agricultural economists Conce Moraba and Karabo Mabuza.
Access to opportunities and information
Chizera also pointed to the need for women to invest into their businesses, and to understand the sector.
“Because you’ll find that most people might plant, for example, tomatoes, but they have not fed their education to what else can come from tomatoes.”
She referred to the various processing opportunities that exist within tomato production, such as tomato powder and tomato paste.
Also, in her opinion, the agricultural sector should not only be about growing food, but also about creating spaces for growth, so that women can seize opportunities at their disposal.
Moraba added, “Unfortunately, in this industry, sometimes we don’t get access, or we don’t get the information. [Meanwhile] there is information [and] there are people that are there to assist you.
“If you knock on certain doors, obviously you might get a no but somewhere else, you will get a yes. You will get someone who’s willing to assist you.”
During the session, experts also discussed:
- How cultural norms make it impossible for women to adapt in agriculture;
- Ways to get started without capital; and
- Funding options.
Sign up for Farmer’s Inside Track: Join our exclusive platform for new entrants into farming and agri-business, with newsletters and and podcasts.