LETTER: Land for women
With government support some have grown from smallholder farmers to major commercial players
More than 60,000 women have been allocated land through the government’s land redistribution programmes since 2009.
It has been allocated to female emerging farmers, former labour tenants, farm workers and women who had been dispossessed of their land through discriminatory laws, policies and practices of the past.
This has empowered entire rural communities as women play a developmental role in society. Organisations such as Women in Agriculture and Rural Development, the Rural Women’s Movement, South African Women in Dialogue and female traditional leaders are consulted by the rural development and land reform department during the formulation of policies.
Women are making strides in the agricultural sector as formidable farmers, and with government support some have grown from smallholder farmers to major commercial players.
The One Household One Hectare Programme initiated by the department provides for the allocation of a one-hectare portion of state land for every rural household for the purpose of agricultural activities. Since its inception in 2015, rural women have produced successful crops to sell to markets. Poverty has been reduced and food security has been achieved for poor families.
The government has also provided seeds, fertilisers, agricultural implements and water to rural women involved in small-scale agriculture. Training is a crucial part of their empowerment, especially marketing, finances and using modern techniques to create goods for discerning consumers.
Giving this type of support to rural women forms part of the government’s efforts to break the cycle of poverty and joblessness that leads to migration to cities, which in turn results in overcrowding and the creation of unsafe living conditions.