Funding and access to land come up as difficult challenges for both startup farmers and women farmers, and the lack of knowledge stands as a core issue these groups struggle with.
In a Gather To Grow episode on Instagram Live, host Dawn Noemdoe and her panel of specialists discussed the issue and posed possible solutions by highlighting different avenues women and startup farmers can take.
Provision from government
Vivian Phela, the deputy director in the chief directorate of development finance in the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, told listeners that the government has placed different funding models and land opportunities for women to reduce inequality, increase employment opportunities, and income generation.
“For land allocation, there are requirements that hinder women from accessing funding and land. In terms of land, a lack of commercial experience, level of education and ownership hinder access to land allocation and the complex land tenure system for women to register and formalise their land rights.
“When it comes to funding, women don’t have business plans and proposals in place and aren’t aware or don’t have information about the available funds from the government. The lack of collateral and security also makes access difficult to funding,” she said.
Mafisa stands tall as lone funding project
She explained that the department has developed several funding programmes such as the Micro Agricultural Financial Institution of South Africa (Mafisa), which is the lone funding project that addresses the financial needs of smallholder farmers.
According to Phela, the funding is accessible through financial intermediaries in the provinces.
Agricultural social entrepreneur Veronica Aswansi said, that in developing countries, 80%of food production involves women, either in labour or even just food being cooked, yet ownership is a single digit in a lot of African countries.
She said for access to land and funding for food production, any farmer needs collateral because ownership leads to empowerment and control.
Navigating the storm
“If a woman owns the land, there is an increase in productivity, and income is inevitable. According to research, in Rwanda, women have shown interest in land conversation more than men, so they do have an impact on reducing poverty.
“Accessing funds is caused by lack of knowledge. Some of us seem to not understand that if we have leased land we can have access to funding if we lease for 15 years,” she said.
Aswansi said women need to understand what is available to them because land ownership is not the only way to go. The possibility of leasing land can also help them achieve what they want.
Access to markets
North West cattle farmer Ipeleng Kwadi-Seboni said one of the biggest challenges that young farmers and women farmers struggle with when accessing funds, is their lack of access to different markets.
“There might be production, but market struggles are difficult to navigate. Economic instability and rising feed costs make it difficult for farmers to access markets and attain compliance requirements which are all vital in accessing funds,” she said.
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