Cape Town - Subsistence farmer Tenjiwe Christina Kaba from Khayelitsha ploughed a significant breakthrough for women in a man’s world when she was acknowledged as one of the country’s top farmers.
Kaba, 66, was named as the best subsistence producer in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ annual awards that honour women in the sector.
She won the provincial leg earlier this year and went on to compete in the national leg of the awards. The awards ceremony was held in Durban on Saturday.
The provincial award contained a cash prize of R55 000, half of which went to Kaba, while the remainder was allocated to the project itself.
All of the national prize, worth R150 000, would need to be invested in the project itself.
She received the awards for initiating and successfully leading the Moya We Khaya, (spirit of home) community vegetable garden project together with 12 other women in Section A, Khayelitsha.
The vegetables cultivated by the women include cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, red mint, kale and onions, as well as herbs like coriander, lemon grass and lavender.
Kaba said their organic products provided a subsistence living for the participating women, while the surplus harvest is sold for profit.
On Sunday, she said she had big plans for her enterprise.
“I would like to thank the provincial and national departments of agriculture. They have given me this award and I am bringing it home to Cape Town.
“The next step for me is to get more land and start planting more vegetables such as sprouts and mushrooms. I want to start selling to restaurants and hotels.
“Next month I’m going to Washington DC in the United States to give a speech at a university to talk about my life story.”
She said she would use her prize money to acquire new business premises.
MEC of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde, in congratulating Kaba, said: “Tenjiwe is a role model for residents and an excellent ambassador for the agricultural sector.
“She is playing an important role in food security and we need to celebrate her achievements.”
Kaba has previously a number of other awards, including the Bishop Desmond Tutu Footprints of Legends Leadership Award in 2002 and the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year Award in 2001. She was also a finalist in the Green Trust Award Individuals in Action.
One of Kaba’s farming colleagues, Zodwa Thomas-Daweti, said Kaba had inspired her to join the project.
“I used to go to hospital for stress (treatment), but ever since I started gardening I don’t go there any more. It’s actually therapeutic for me working in this garden,” she said.