Difficulties women face in agriculture

Speakers of this conference at the Cape Town ICC.

At a conference held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the issues confronting women in agriculture around the world were thoroughly discussed. The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Irvin Meyer, officially opened the conference, which was intended to introduce Black farmers to opportunities to establish trade ties.

Among the many issues discussed here, the problem faced by women in agriculture was discussed on the first day, with an emphasis on the factors that impede women’s growth in agriculture.

According to experts from around the world and the African continent, the number of women in agriculture is increasing, but there are many barriers to their growth.

Women on the African continent and in South Africa are hampered by issues such as education, preventing them from growing sufficiently. This causes the women to frequently seek assistance in order to follow the knowledge that comes to them in other languages at a level that requires higher education.

Women are unable to be independent because they rely on others to read or follow information and knowledge. According to Waynand Espach of AgriColleges International, the type of education provided to women leaves them unable to continue the work of becoming successful farmers.

“Many of those who go through our educational institutions and other institutions look for other jobs after studying agriculture,” explained Espach, “So the education they receive, whether long-term or short-term, does not help them grow in agriculture.”

According to Mpumi Maesela of Services Empresso Holdings, women’s lack of education and knowledge keeps them from receiving financial assistance in agriculture.

“Finding investors in agriculture requires a high level of education in order to properly follow the conditions related to financial support,” Maesela explained.

Maesela goes on to say that investors release very little money to help women farmers, while men are frequently helped.

The women said that companies that provide crop and livestock farming assistance to women should speak directly to women without the involvement of a third party.

“Women will never grow if investors and the government do not talk directly with women in agriculture; remove all those who pretend to be women’s lawyers in agriculture,” Maesela said.

According to Kgosi Gaboilelwe Moroka, one of the factors impeding the growth of women farmers in South Africa and Africa in general is the state of the roads leading to their farms.

“It is difficult for aid to reach the women’s farms; the route taken by those bringing aid forces the women to travel to nearby towns for assistance,” Moroka explained. Women find it difficult to work in agriculture due to a lack of women-friendly tools.

Many beliefs exist on the African continent that discourage women from participating in agriculture.

“Did you know that there are countries in Africa that do not allow women to participate in agriculture because their beliefs prohibit it?” Moroka shared.

Susan Payne is the manager of a company based in the United States that assists small farmers in Africa. “We are looking to increase our support to African farmers, but women farmers continue to lag behind in many areas that can help them grow in agriculture,” Payne said.

Payne believes that the type of education provided to girls should prepare them for self-sufficiency in areas such as business and agriculture.