The MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, says the time to be apologetic about women’s need for land and funding is over since she has instructed the AgriBusiness Development Agency (ADA) to search and find farms lying fallow for the purpose of resuscitation and re-allocation to entrepreneurial women and youth farmers.
Speaking at the Opening Access to Women Empowerment dialogue held at Mfolozi Municipality, Sithole-Moloi, said since the conclusion of the assessment of the state of land reform farms report in KwaZulu-Natal, ADA has been tasked to begin creating business plans to put those farms back to full production as part of opening access to land and funding for women-owned businesses.
“This is not the time to be apologetic about the women’s needs in the agricultural sector. Women can no longer be treated as black sheep in land allocation and financing. Women need land and must have funding. That is why I have instructed ADA to draw up business plans to resuscitate farms that are lying fallow in the province for the purpose of re-allocating them to women and youth.
This instruction included increasing the ADA budget for funding women-owned projects from R40 million this year, to R85 million next year. Over and above this, I have also ordered that 50% of all agricultural projects funded by our department to be allocated to women beneficiaries,” Sithole-Moloi said.
She added that women must begin to organize themselves into business niches that cater for each need in the value chain so they can easily solve problems, keep their overheads in check and stimulate the local economy.
“If one farming business raises livestock, another must grow crops for livestock feed, others must go into processing and others into logistics businesses. In that way you can create local economy by occupying the whole value chain. The government can then help with the subsidization of processing facilities such as mills and abattoirs,” Sithole-Moloi said.