KING EMPOWERS WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
By: Nhlanhla Ndlovu
The Zulu tribe head, King Goodwill Zwelithini Zulu, encouraged Africans to participate in agricultural production in order to support economic growth in the continent.
Zwelithini shared his words of wisdom at the opening ceremony of the Conference for Women in Agriculture, organised by NEPAD in partnership with the Department of Agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal, at the International Convention Centre (ICC) on Thursday.
The gathering, which aimed to engage various stakeholders on opening space for african women small-holders in agribusiness, was graced by delegates from various countries on the continent.
He(Zwelithini) believes that women have been the main contributors in agriculture although they have been undermined.
“Women remain on the margins and not fully integrated into policy frame-works. In almost all the African countries, women farmers are still neglected, with very few interventions for empowering them,” he elaborated.
“I sincerely hope that their deliberations in this conference will come out with better strategies on empowering women in agriculture,” he added.
He said, “Many women who have been engaged in agriculture for years and through generations have not been trained or empowered to consider their agricultural production as a business.”
Chairperson of the Agribusiness Development Agency, Dr Tshitshi Mbatha, representing MEC of Agriculture, Cyril Xaba, said that women are ready to take up the challenge of engaging in agribusiness.
“We have been interacting with them; they have demonstrated that to us over the years. All they want is support, consistency- all they want is us to honour our promises to them,” she said.
Nevertheless, representative from NEPAD, Estherine Fatabong, said they still lack support from active economic players.
One of the dignitaries, Minister for women, children and youth affairs in Ethiopia, Zenebu Tadesse, believes that it is a wonder to see women who are so prominently engaged in, and contributing to, the sector, which mostly needs natural resources to survive.
According to NEPAD, the sector is the economic and development backbone of most African economies.