Deputy President David Mabuza says access to land for current and prospective women farmers remains one of the key priorities of government’s Land Reform Programme.
Addressing the launch of the Female Farmer’s Dialogue held in Thaba Nchu in the Free State on Thursday, Mabuza said government has introduced proactive measures to ensure that beneficiary selection criteria focus on enhancing women ownership of land.
“When women own the land, they make it productive; families tend to be better fed, better educated, and healthier. We have already commenced with the allocation of state owned land to beneficiaries in need of agricultural land.
“Through our Land Reform Programme, we are re-allocating the land to the landless, labour tenants, farm workers, and emerging farmers for productive uses to improve their livelihoods and quality of life,” Mabuza said.
The dialogue, which marked the launch of the provincial Women’s Month, brought together female entrepreneurs who are subsistence, smallholder and those who have reached commercial level from across the various districts of the province.
Mabuza said that government will continue to collaborate across the three spheres to coordinate its support better, and ensure that all post-settlement programmes are well coordinated, integrated and effective.
“We do this because we know that the productive utilisation of land in communal areas is key to effective rural development. In the main, agriculture sustains economic activities and livelihoods in rural communities.
“We must find ways to support agricultural enterprises to drive the agenda of rural development. We must all come together and follow the example of African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) to accelerate agrarian reform and to bring the marginalised poor into the economic mainstream.”
WATCH | Women farmers' dialogue
The Deputy President noted that while guaranteeing the long-term viability of the agricultural sector in South Africa, AFASA has achieved noteworthy strides in commercialising the nation's emerging agricultural sector and facilitating the meaningful engagement of black people in mainstream commercial agribusiness.
He also stressed the need to develop strategies on how government can ensure a better legal framework that will ensure access and equity in the distribution of land for farming.
“As we grow agriculture and promote rural development, we have enjoined partnerships with traditional leaders to find ways of investing in rural infrastructure and service delivery. We will work with traditional leaders to ensure that women farmers are adequately supported.
“We promise that, as part of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Traditional Leadership, we will visit the province again to engage with traditional leaders on various matters of concern.”
Do more to support black women farmers
The Deputy President further emphasised that the country must do more to support black women farmers and young girls, in order to capacitate them to unleash their potential.
“It behoves us to address artificial barriers that engender the exclusion of women from the agricultural sector across the entire value chain. We must enhance our practical measures and interventions to provide holistic support to women farmers in order increase agricultural production and impact on economic growth, food security and employment.
“Our integrated support to women in this sector must unlock land availability, mechanisation support, funding, training, access to markets and the introduction of new technologies for modern farming.
The Deputy President added that government will continue to make resources available to support women farmers.
“We must therefore invest more in providing training, research and technological innovation to support those wanting to enter the agricultural sector. We must encourage young people to enrol in agriculture colleges and universities to acquire [the] necessary skills, we must do more to support black women farmers and young girls in order to capacitate them to unleash their potential.
“In terms of key infrastructure required for successful agriculture, government will continue to assist with the provision of bulk water and irrigation infrastructure, as well as logistics and storage infrastructure.”