For a female farmer, making her mark in the agri-sector has never been an easy task. Eugene Simons, founder of Algina’s Wholesale Nursery, knows this all too well.
“The industry has always been male-dominated. For you as a woman to step into that, you must have a lot of hair on your teeth,” she says in this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track video episode.
In the video Simons, who was born and raised on a farm, fondly recalls her pet cow, pet sheep and playing with their family’s chickens growing up. “[Farming] takes hard work and you must have faith the size of a mustard seed to make it in this industry”, she says. The agriculturalist believes that for women to survive and thrive in the industry, they must have faith in their product and know what they’re talking about.
Simons also talks about the bond between herself and her husband, Alan, the owner of Alan’s Vegetables. The couple faced a double retrenchment more than 10 years ago and the impact it had on their family changed their lives forever. She also highlights her on-going struggle to procure land.
It saddens Simons that not enough young people are taking interest in the agricultural sector. “I think each household should have a little garden that is able to sustain them. This way we can teach young minds from an early age that agriculture is actually a beautiful thing.”
Urging young entrepreneurs to be fearless, Simons believes that she must lead by example and plans to leave behind a legacy for both her family and other female entrepreneurs. In the video she adds that women need to know that when they apply their minds and have passion for what they do, then they can become leading farmers in Mzansi’s agri-sector.
“Never think that your ideas are small. Never think that you’re a failure even before you have started. Never think that there’s no place for you in agriculture, because I have proven that wrong,” she says.
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