“If you are informed about something, no one can dismiss your comments as inappropriate,” says Alida Botma, Administrator of Agrifriend, Senwes’ spare parts division. Alida has been a stalwart at Senwes for 25 years, first at grain trading and marketing, and for the past two years as part of the equipment team. She believes that expertise makes all the difference in making your voice heard.

Alida says women should not feel intimidated to voice their opinions and make their voices heard, but it should be an informed opinion.

Her advice to women in the professional industry is to be curious and ask the right questions. “Learn as much as you can and ask if you don’t know. Attend workshops on facets of the business. In our case, go to farmers’ days where you can spend time with the role-players yourself and gain knowledge.”

She believes that women are very versatile and good communicators, but they also need to learn to network engagement. “Who you know is often just as important as who you are!”

As a young girl, Alida started working at Senwes in the grain department where she proved herself so well that she later acquired her own dealer code to trade on Safex. In 2013, TradeVantage was established within the Senwes Group. She was part of this team that functioned independently of the grain marketing department.

Two years ago, she pursued the opportunity to become part of the equipment team.

Alida Botma from Senwes believes that women should be seen and heard, but they should equip themselves with expertise so that their opinions are respected.

She provides administrative support to the parts managers and their staff. Her challenge is to facilitate administrative processes and to ensure that communication channels in the division are clear and remain open.

She says it has been a great privilege for her to grow with a dynamic agricultural company among all the different people, systems and through economic changes.

Another benefit of the company is that women are encouraged to perform. “No exceptions are made that make a woman feel uncomfortable or inferior. All my male colleagues respect us as women.”

She believes that there are indeed sectors in the agricultural industry that have not yet fully made the mind shift in the role of women, but this is changing and this should motivate women to prove that farming is no longer just a men’s world.

Alida loves people and it makes her happy to make others happy: “There is so much to be grateful for when one looks around you. To give someone a compliment or speak up. To be able to make a joke and to be able to laugh. To know I made a difference in someone’s day with my words. It makes everything worthwhile.”

Of course, a professional career is not without challenges; especially not with two teenage daughters!

Alida says: “Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure that you can swallow quickly to sometimes feel more positive or in control. As the mother of two teenage daughters, it goes pretty rough, and it sometimes feels like you have to keep ten balls in the air. Thank the Lord for a very supportive husband who remains calm through such times. Prayer, faith and gratitude also play a big role. Agriculture is an integral and important part of Alida’s life.

Agriculture means hope, faith and love to her. It is about grooming, job creation and growth.

She is very excited and optimistic about the industry and all the developments and innovations that are underway.

What she wants to leave behind is: “Knowing that I was part of an exceptional industry. That I worked hard and was part of the growth and promotion of agriculture. That I made a difference in someone’s life with my colourful personality.”