Gauteng women get help to reap the benefits of agriculture

Thomas McLachlan

Thomas McLachlan

Gauteng yesterday launched its Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (Ward) initiative to help women with farming.

This follows similar launches in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu- Natal earlier this year.

The Gauteng MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment, Khabisi Mosunkutu, opened the next chapter of the project in the country's most productive province.

The intention is to help women's empowerment in agriculture, to protect women from farm evictions and give women access to life skills and economic skills.

Mosunkutu said that R1,9million would be allocated to establishing the initiative in Gauteng as well as a portion of the R10million funding for provincial agriculture projects. This would take place "while we wait for financial allocation from the national ministry," he said.

"Of the 6000 homestead food gardens that we plan to help establish during the coming financial year, the biaswill also be towards women," Mosunkutu said.

"The purpose of Ward is to see quick access by women to support programmes, Land Bank products and other capacity building programmes," Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana said earlier this year.

In order to ensure women economic empowerment was upheld in agriculture, "we shall establish at least 10 agricultural co-operatives", Mosunkutu said.

He called on the business community to join the government in the initiative.

The launch coincided with the provincial unveiling of the Macro Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (Mafisa).

Mafisa was started in December last year to provide financial services to aid the development of micro and small agri-businesses and to enable entrepreneurs to develop into larger businesses, said Mosunkutu.