Emerging farmer shines in Brazil
EMERGING farmer Emily Tjale, of GaNtwane in Mpumalanga, says winning an international award in Brazil has brought a big challenge in her life.
Tjale, 58, came second in the category of Food Sovereignty at the Rio+20 Summit which was held in Rio de Janeiro last week.
Food Sovereignty is about protecting indigenous seeds as well as growing nutritious food that contribute to healthy livelihood.
She competed against 150 candidates from 50 countries.
She says she was recognised for using original seeds instead of chemicals when producing her vegetables.
Tjale and her group - Women Together in Development - work as caregivers, looking after sick people in the community while farming to provide food and livelihoods.
"We grow organic produce to preserve food sovereignty as well as nutritious food to those who are most needy in our society.
"We are not exporting any of our products but we share it with the community," Tjale says.
She has dedicated her award to the rural women in her community who had to feed their families under terrible conditions.
Tjale says collecting an award will earn her and her group recognition in the sector.
"Winning the award means that I will get recognition from government funders and other stakeholders who support farming. Perhaps this will finally solve the land issue."
The former nurse at Chris Hani- Baragwanath Hospital is also a coordinator for the Land Access Movement of South Africa.
Tjale says though many women are very interested in farming, there are, however, too many challenges in the sector.
"In my community women are still going hungry because they are not able to produce enough to eat. Women need access to natural resources and support to adapt to climate change so that we can be more productive," she says.
Tjale says among some of the challenges facing developing farmers are climate change and an insufficient water supply.
"Crop production is down because weather patterns are unpredictable," she said.