Picture: Mwanza Millinga (IFAD)

Increasing capacity, building profit margins and obtaining funds from different government entities were some of the pressing issues at this year's annual Conference for Women in Agribusiness held in Durban this week.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) hosted the conference which attracted women from various farming sectors.

Small scale potato farmer, Zenande Khumalo from Pietermaritzburg who runs Mkhatshwa Holdings and has been in the agribusiness sector for two years, said: “Conferences such as these are beneficial to me because I feel I’m still fairly new in this sector. The conference has given me the opportunity to network and interact with farmers from all over the continent who were able to share some invaluable information on potato farming and on ways in which I can ensure product quality."

Small scale potato farmer, Zenande Khumalo from Pietermaritzburg runs Mkhatshwa Holdings and has been in the agribusiness sector for two years. Video: Khumbuzile Mbuqe


Speaking at the afternoon session of the conference on Tuesday, which covered the practical steps into entrepreneurship, fellow of the inaugural Class of the Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, Bongiwe Njobe said: “It is worth noting that women’s roles along the value chain are limited mostly to primary production and small-scale marketing of produce. Another factor that constrains smallholder women farmers to get involved in commercial activities is the issue relating to market standards.”

Programme Head of Gender and Human Rights and Youth and Economic Development at AMEF Atim Evenye Taniform talks about the issues facing women farmers. Video: Khumbuzile Mbuqe

Zimbabwean produce farmer Beauty Manake addressing the panel said: “Farming needs to be brought back into the school curriculum so that kids can grow up with the know how and this will help alleviate poverty. If the family can't find reliable employment elsewhere, they can look into subsistence farming as a means of survival.”

The Mercury