Mango farmer wins
More than 700 people packed the Emnotweni Arena in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, on Friday evening for what has become a highlight on the agriculture calendar - the annual Female Farmer of the Year competition.
Now in its 10th year, the competition honours women farmers throughout the country for their contribution to the economy.
Welcoming guests to the event, Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla stressed the important role these women play in society.
"Although there will only be a few winners announced tonight, all the entrants are winners.
"It is a fitting end to Women's Month and we salute the contribution you are making to the country and your communities," said Makwetla.
Contestants in the finals represented the nine provinces after heats were held throughout the country in August.
The different types of farming activities were as diverse as the farmers themselves: from Jana du Plessis in the Northern Cape, who is a beekeeper, to Ntombi Msimang who runs a profitable grape farm in North West.
Employing 20 permanent workers and 60 seasonal workers, Msimang is the first black South African woman farmer to get European accreditation to export her grapes.
Taking home a cheque for R50000 and the honour of being named Female Farmer of the Year was Limpopo's Makgoro Mannya.
A mango farmer, Mannya produces atchaar which is sold throughout the country and exported to Botswana, Europe and Madagascar.
Speaking to Sowetan shortly after receiving her award, Mannya put her success down to hard work.
"Perseverance is the mother of success. I work hard, follow my dream and believe in God," she said.
Winners in the various categories were:
Top Producer for Household Use: Isibonelo Vegetable Garden - KwaZulu-Natal.
Top Producer for Informal Markets: Nomathamsanqa Madliwa - Eastern Cape.
Top Producer for National Markets: Sonja Ferreira - Western Cape.
Top Producer for Export Markets: Makgoro Mannya - Limpopo.
2007 Female Farmer of the Year: Makgoro Mannya - Limpopo.
l To view a video of the evening log on to www.sowetan.co.za