All this women below is part of the Momentum Metropolitan’s Women in Farming Programme.
The programme is on a mission to enhance the skills of young female farmers to enable and empower them to better feed their families and create jobs for their communities.
Nontokozo Cebile Mdletshe
She is a 26 year old young passionate, dedicated urban female farmer from Mtubatuba but currently based in Pietermaritzburg.
“The name of my business is The Hand-Isandla pty ltd, it is an urban farming business where we don’t just sell organic vegetables and seedlings but also offer Agricultural skills development and training,” she said.
Nontokozo completed her honours degree in B.Sc. Agriculture: Agronomy at the University of Zululand in 2018. “I also did an Organic farming course in 2019 and a business development course in 2022 at Umgibe farming organics and training institute, and I’m being incubated at Umgibe. I also did horticulture, poultry production, and business management with I3A during the momentum metropolitan foundation women in farming training. I am the CEO, Co-founder and managing director of the company. I have a passionate business partner by the name of Vusumuzi Mlangeni, who is a qualified Environmental Scientist,” Nontokozo said.
The Hand-Isandla was started as a pilot project in July 2021 during the difficult times when South Africa was faced with looting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Insufficiency of food and accessibility led to the establishment of a 1.3ha farm which is based in Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg,” she added.
She does not just sell organic vegetables and seedlings, “but we also specialize in skills development and training. Our vision is to be the best young leading urban farmers who run a sustainable and profitable business while ensuring that our customers receive good customer service and that all our produce are of high quality.”
When we asked her why customers should choose them over their competition she answered: “Our mission is to have affordable and reasonable prices, moreover to create a sustainable livelihood for us as well as the community at large. We are closing the gap of food security, poverty and hunger through job creation and also to become a leading, sustainable and trusted supplier of organic vegetables and seedlings not just in Pietermaritzburg but nationally.”
During womens month they focused on young women empowerment so that women can be able to make good choices in all areas of their lives while also having an impact on their families, communities and society as a whole.
“The only possible way to reach women is to provide them with skills development and actually involve them in the whole agricultural value chain so that they can have greater control over their health, their families, their careers and their quality of life. Don’t just give them fish to feed themselves but teach them how to fish.”
Having mentors and surrounding herself with uplifting and inspiring women is one of her keys to success because she tend to learn a lot from them. “My mentor is Nonhlanhla Joye, the CEO of Umgibe farming organics and training institute; she is an amazing, phenomenal successful woman who I look up to and learning a lot from her and her good work.”
Women advanced very far and still going places in her industry. “One of the things we do is social empowerment, where we change the mindset, attitudes and behaviours that enable women to take charge of their lives, have a voice, and free themselves from poverty, violence and discrimination. We do this by making sure that they all have access to training and resources that will help them to know how to generate their own income and make their own employment decisions.”
Womens rights and gender equality is very important “because today’s empowered women are tomorrow’s leaders for change. Women are made to nurture and influence, so if they are well empowered and are fully involved in the industry, they will be able to also nurture and grow more successful women who have more control and power over their lives. This can be achieved by removing all social, legal, and cultural norms and barriers that prevent women from having equal opportunities, rights and voices like men.”
When it comes to agriculture she thinks women should be involved because they the people who should make sure there is healthy food on the tables. “They are responsible for feeding their children and families, so leaving them out will be a very big mistake. Agriculture is the most important economic sector, so closing the gap of gender equality can play a vital role in achieving zero hunger and sustainable development.”
Her message to other women in the Agricultural industry:
“Believe in yourself, stand up, look for opportunities, and start where you are with what you have. Funding will find you on the way, be the best that you were born to be, work hard to create more sustainable agricultural solutions to provide solutions for today’s generations as well as future generations to come, and lay a good foundation.”
She is the founder and leader the business named Ziyabuya Business Women (Esijozini) and this is in the Agricultural industry.
“With regards to the history and origin, I dreamt of being a farmer in 2019, but soon after that the pandemic hit in the following year and I was stuck at home, unemployed and in need of money for basics such as food and medication. This led to me pushing forward to make something out of this dream, I then started the business in 2020.”
She believe that the customer is always right, and she aim to add value to their purchase. “We also wash, chop and package the vegetables upon request.”
Her focus during women’s month is encouraging women to learn more about farming, how they can get started and how they can actually successfully grow the produce that they purchase at the stores. “There is a misconception that farming is hard or difficult and not really fit for women, but we are capable of being successful farmers and also capable of imparting this knowledge into others. “
She can offer women in agriculture employment opportunities or mentor them. “This will ensure that I am within close range to empower and encourage them on farming and how they can get started. Women are the backbone of the country, and farming is one way in which they can create a stream of income that will assist in supporting their families. I also believe that I can reach them by making them understand that their current struggles are something I have also experienced, and I have managed to, through farming, create a stable stream of income.
“Being surrounded by strong women will teach me and enable me to apply what I have learnt to my business which will positively impact it.”
When it comes to agriculture, she thinks we need more women involved because they are more than capable of not only successfully running a business in the agricultural industry, but we have the ability to make a great impact in the lives of other women in the country through inspiring and empowering them.
Her message to women in the Agricultural industry: “You are capable. I believe that this is the key to our success and together we can help one another become great farmers. Another key message is the importance of patience. We always need to remember that the day we plant is not the day we eat, but in due time we will reap what we have sown.”
Siyethaba Aphelele Ntuli
Siyethaba Aphelele Ntuli, founder and director of Adornare Eater Agriculture Agro Processing – agri-processing whereby we plant vegetables and sell them to local community members and a few family members that stay not so close to where we are located and church members who are based at Mpolweni and Thokozani.
What Adornare Eater is doing to expand is that it does not only sell whole and copped packaged vegetables; they also use our fresh vegetables, which are carefully selected from our own garden to prepare warm hot meals for our lovers of home-cooked meals.
Adornare Eater started due to the need for veggies within the community supermarket selling poor quality vegetables, unemployment, the eagerness to be a young business woman, and most importantly the drive to solve the problem of poor quality vegetables that are being sold within our community. Adornare’s objective is to extend sales in the next three years by 10% of the current income, not forgetting growth in increasing profit revenue and capacity number of products sold.
“Our main goal is to work hard and make sure that we end up becoming the most known and leading supply and delivery eatery in South Africa and be able to compete with the well-known influencers in the industry worldwide. We do acknowledge the fact that in this industry in order to build a tough supply and delivery eatery with high standard and high-class levels from scratch, it definitely calls for huge amounts of capital for purchasing the world-class state equipment in order to produce high quality world-class standard services.”
What distinguishes Adornare Eater is that she always make a list of tangible efficiency improvements that she may put in place at Adornare Eater; therefore, she always observe the relationship between cost, time and quality.
Customers should choose Adornare Eater because it is all about Circular Economy and strive to improve the economy. “We will be employing young people within the community. Our packaging will be 100% recyclable and not harm air, water and land, as my plants will depend on all 3 resources.”
“We need more women who are owners because truth be told, all these years women have been in agriculture, just not in the spotlight but rather the people who would plant and harvest,” she added.