Joyous celebrations erupted at the graduation ceremony as 35 aspiring women farmers from across South Africa proudly graduated from the 2023 Corteva Agriscience #SoilSistas Programme.
The third #SoilSistas cohort was a year-long journey to enhance the skills and knowledge of women in agriculture and was presented by Corteva Agriscience in partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).
#Soilsista Hlobisile Yende shone as the top achiever, applauding her peers for their shared success.
‘Ready to take our businesses to the next level’
“Today we stand as accomplished graduates who are upskilled and ready to take our businesses to the next level.
“The richness of this programme, the content of the faculty and our mentors who have been the cornerstone of our learning, their guidance, wisdom and support has shaped us into understanding agriculture’s complexities,” Yende said.
Yende said beyond the curriculum they were able to cultivate relationships, which made the journey truly remarkable.
“Each of us has undergone personal growth and transformation during this time. The lessons learned, challenges overcome, and the skills acquired have laid the foundation for our future endeavours in agriculture.
“As we move forward, let’s carry the ethos of stewardship, innovation and sustainability in this programme.”
A joyous moment
Speaking at the #SoilSistas ceremony, Betty Kiplagat, head of government affairs at Africa Middle East: Corteva Agriscience, described this year’s cohort as a group of determined and resilient women.
“We acknowledge and celebrate the resilience, dedication and expertise that you [bring] to the agricultural sector. It is indeed happy to witness a growing number of women actively participating in every aspect of agriculture from cultivation, and livestock management, to Agribusiness and research,” she said.
Kiplagat expressed deep gratitude for the privilege of witnessing and participating in the women entrepreneurs’ programme throughout the years.
She pledged an ongoing commitment to advocate for incorporating technology in agriculture, emphasising the importance of providing women with access to the necessary tools.
“Corteva strongly believes in this programme… and in developing women’s technical and entrepreneurial skills is key. Given the food demand, this praises the changing context of agricultural trade, the unpredictable long-term effects of climate change and the many challenges women face,” she said.
Landbank supports women
Themba Rikhotso, CEO of Land Bank, highlighted the importance of resilient farmers and congratulated the cohort on pushing past adversity.
Apart from unpacking current offerings available to farmers from Landbank, Rikhotso said the bank has started to pay close attention to supporting women in agriculture and how much of their financing is going into African women.
“We are focusing on transforming the sector, bringing historically disadvantaged individuals into farming. But more importantly, we are not just looking at bringing new farmers into farming, we’re looking at how we can build sustainable, commercial businesses in farming.
“That’s why programmes like these are very important. They make you look at farming as a business and give you other business skills required to run a successful farming business,” he said.
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