Khanyisile Zulu (35) and Nomfundo Makhanya (19) – two farmers from KwaZulu-Natal and Momentum Metropolitan’s Women in Farming programme candidates – were recently invited by Health and Wholeness Ethiopia (HAWE) and Mulie Animal Feed Processing Factory to partake on a learning journey to Ethiopia.

Momentum Metropolitan’s Women in Farming (WIF) programme, in partnership with Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute and Agri Enterprises, is a three-year incubator that aims to enhance the skills of young black female farmers, empowering them to better feed their communities. The programme is designed to instil capacity-building and business skills, which helps to develop these women-owned enterprises into sustainable businesses.

The Ethiopian initiative acted as a capacity-building layer to the WIF programme. The intention was to help candidates identify new ways of building a sustainable South African animal feed production line while exposing candidates to different methods of farming across the continent.

Explains Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Youth Employment Portfolio Head at Momentum Metropolitan: “Working with our WIF Candidates, it was highlighted that the high cost of animal feed poses a significant challenge to emerging farmers. The Ethiopian learning journey aimed to teach our two WIF candidates how to produce high-quality animal feed while learning how their African counterparts were successfully running agriculture enterprises – especially in areas where there were limited resources.”

Mahlangu explains that Zulu and Makhanya were selected to represent the pool of WIF cohorts. “They were expected to share learnings from their own farming experience in an ideas generation and cross-pollination exercise that aimed to identify new solutions to making food more affordable and thus accessible to all Africans. In turn, they transferred the knowledge gleaned from the trip to the other WIF candidates upon their return.

 “The trip also served as a networking platform for our candidates, allowing them to tap into continental markets through our various Agri partners and networks.”

The programme commenced with a welcome dinner in Addis Ababa, followed by a trip to the Mulie Animal Feed Processing Factory in Bahir Dar. The candidates were afforded the opportunity to meet with local farmers and fertiliser manufacturers, as well as government officials who could facilitate the process.

Both Zulu and Makhanya were thrilled when presented with the opportunity. “When I received the invitation, I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that I was allowed the opportunity to travel out of the country – and at such a young age!” exclaimed Makhanya.

Zulu listed some key observations from the experience: “The Ethiopians are very resourceful; they work with what they have and do not rely on government to come to their aid. They are truly self-made. As a developing country, they are really progressive in terms of trade and commerce. This demonstrated to me the importance of partnering with other enterprises to develop my own, and how to market myself and my business effectively.

“This trip also made me realise the importance of immersing myself in other cultures and learning other languages, even in our own country. Diversity, if harnessed correctly, can only help us grow. There is a lot to learn from other cultures on farming too; the different traditions they uphold when farming can be taught and built upon.

“What I learnt from the trip was truly inspiring, especially seeing so many people working hard at their craft and acquiring confidence from what they achieve,” she says.

Makhanya adds that she is very grateful to Momentum Metropolitan’s Women in Farming programme for affording her the opportunity. “Over the past few months, I have learned and been exposed to a great deal. The Ethiopian experience was invaluable; seeing other methods of operating combined with what I’ve learned during the training will help me progress in my own business journey. I know my enterprise will expand – perhaps not immediately, but definitely over the coming years.”

Source: RVM Communications