Early last year the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) launched their National Women’s Desk that was established to address issues of women in the agricultural sector. AFASA is involved in lobbying, resource mobilisation and advocacy, looking at current policy with the intent to influence them, and investigating what farmers, especially black farmers need.

According to Ntuthu Mbiko-Motshegoa who is an agripreneur, a national executive member of AFASA, and also responsible for the National Women’s Desk, the desk has the same approach as AFASA, but with a specific focus on supporting black women in the agricultural industry.

Ntuthu says that their goal is to develop women and ensure that they remain sustainable in the sector. They have several programmes and strategies to enhance the capabilities of women in agribusiness.

Women in various sectors

“Afasa Women are visible in a variety of sectors,” Ntuthu told AgriOrbit. “We are an umbrella organisation that represents women form various commodities.  One of our exciting new commodities is game and is represented by the African Game Ranchers Association (AGRA), whose objectives include facilitating and promoting broader participation of previously disadvantaged people and transformation in the wildlife industry.

AGRA was founded in 2017 and will later this year hold its maiden conference and AGM. ‘Women in Wildlife’ will be one of the discussion topics at this conference.

“We also focus on exploring the potential of other sectors such as apiculture, permaculture, the green and waste economy as well as the biodiversity economy, hence opening up these value chains to women and growing these sectors.

“In addition to the Inward programme, we have an Outward programme (regional and continental) which seeks to champion African Union and United Nations women’s initiatives through women owned agribusinesses.

“With challenges like access to land, conducive funding models and market intelligence, we remain focused to define the relevance of women in transformation and an inclusive economy. In this regard, it is important to be part of the policy making and implementation processes.”

Agribusiness needs more women

Ntuthu emphasised the fact that AFASA Women wants to transform women in the agribusiness sector. “We need to change the fact that women are often a symbol of poverty in the sector. Approximately 60% of women in agricultural are workers. AFASA has a programme to ensure that there is a shift towards developing and empowering these women to become agripreneurs instead.  

“Women need to be a part of the equity and have a footprint on the JSE. Another opportunity for women in South Africa is to convert climate change challenges to opportunity and lead the intercontinental trade in Africa. These are only some of the aspects that the AFASA Women’s Desk has been involved in since its inception.” –Ursula Human, AgriOrbit