In the heart of the Northern Cape, Ellen Kaweng defies stereotypes, carving her path in agriculture. Today, she also inspires a new wave of empowered entrepreneurs in the sector as part of the #SoilSistas cohort.
Meet Ellen Kaweng, a second-generation farmer from Hartswater in the Northern Cape, whose passion for agriculture runs deep within her roots. With unwavering determination and a fierce spirit, she has defied the odds, breaking barriers in a male-dominated space
Her journey, marked by resilience and tenacity, not only reflects her triumph but also serves as an inspiring narrative for women in agriculture. In 2013, Kaweng embraced farming as more than just a profession; it became a calling that she pursued with endless love and dedication.
Today, as a proud #SoilSista, she also stands as a beacon of hope, paving the way for a new generation of female agripreneurs. She believes the Corteva Agriscience Women Agripreneur Programme came at the right time for her to thrive.
Learning from the best – her parents
The apple, however, does not fall far from the tree. Having witnessed her parents farming and later choosing to venture into agribusiness herself, Kaweng approaches everything with love, care, and lessons from her parents.
In 2020, she seized the opportunity with both hands for a state lease of 2 100 hectares. Her journey has since changed dramatically; now, she is farming with 220 cattle, 250 small stocks, some crops, and maize.
“I started farming in 2013 on communal land. I was inspired by my parents who have been farming for years. My journey began with a few cattle, and in 2020, I secured an opportunity for a state lease farm,” she says.
Furthermore, Kaweng employs eight permanent workers and 10 seasonal labourers. The work she is doing in the community by creating job opportunities is unparalleled. “It is the love and the appetite as well to see that farming can help my family and me grow. There are plenty of opportunities, not just for me but also for my community,” she explains.
But greatness is always intertwined with challenges. Stock theft is one of her biggest concerns. “With the land that I currently have, things have improved, and though finances remain a challenge to cultivate the land, I am grateful,” she explains.
Corteva Agriscience paving the way for women
The Corteva Agriscience Women Agripreneur Programme was an opportunity for Kaweng to expand her network and receive mentorship that would help her take the next step in her journey. Being a woman is tough because you are not always taken seriously.
“As we all know, it is a male-dominated industry, and somewhere along the way, you are not sure if you are on the right path because you are questioned as a woman. But I continued my journey and made sure that I know where I stand in my life,” she says.
The advice that Kaweng shares is always important: get to know your industry, understand what is happening, and be confident that you belong in farming.
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