Women farm­ers make a dif­fer­ence in East­ern Cape

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

africa’s first cash­mere fab­ric man­u­fac­turer won the highly-cov­eted over­all prize in the East­ern Cape’s Fe­male En­trepreneur Awards (FEA) re­cently.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati started Ivili Loboya near But­ter­worth in the East­ern Cape in 2015. Just two years later, Ivili’s high­end hand-wo­ven and knit­ted nat­u­ral blended fab­rics are now in­ter­na­tion­ally sought for dé­cor, uphol­stery and fash­ion ap­parel.

Among the tex­tiles pro­duced by the ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion en­ter­prise is cash­mere from the lo­cal iMbuzi goat.

The an­nual FEAs recog­nise the strides made by women in agri­cul­ture. Farm­ers are se­lected based on their per­for­mance, sus­tain­abil­ity of their farm­ing and the com­mer­cial trad­ing they do.

The East­ern Cape leg of the awards was hosted by the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form in East Lon­don on Women’s Day.

Cre­at­ing lo­cal mar­kets

Ivili has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the largely ru­ral econ­omy in which it op­er­ates, not only cre­at­ing 30 jobs but giv­ing lo­cal goat and sheep farm­ers a mar­ket for their wool.

Apart from mak­ing a name for it­self in South Africa, Ivili Loboya has a foot­print in Europe and China.

Said com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Sibukele Gumbo: “We are so happy to have won this award. It en­cour­ages us to work harder so our work can be recog­nised ev­ery­where.”

Uitkoms Farm won the top prize in the com­mer­cial pro­ducer cat­e­gory. Chair­per­son Sarah Louw said the farm breeds an­gora goats for their mo­hair.

“We are very grate­ful be­cause gov­ern­ment, in the first place, helped us by buy­ing us goats and we got the farm from (the Depart­ment of) Land Af­fairs,” Louw said.

“We should all try to de­velop our­selves. We come from poverty and those of us who get farms from gov­ern­ment should strive to bet­ter our lives and grow our busi­nesses to be able to em­ploy oth­ers. We should de­sist from sell­ing the equip­ment we get to scrap metal traders.”

Turn­ing a vi­sion into re­al­ity

MEC for Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form Mlibo Qo­boshiyane com­mended the farm­ers on their high stan­dards. “It shows that peo­ple are learn­ing farm­ing ex­per­tise and the stan­dard is im­prov­ing.”

Pre­mier Phu­mulo Ma­su­alle said the cal­i­bre of the en­trants showed that the vi­sion of turn­ing the East­ern Cape into a food bas­ket of the coun­try was tak­ing shape. “The women here show us they are im­ple­ment­ing the vi­sion it on the ground.” Gov­ern­ment needed to sup­port their ef­forts to up­scale what they are ca­pa­ble of do­ing, he added.

“Women are not just at the pri­mary pro­duc­tion level, and they are also in the pro­duc­tion space, con­vert­ing some of th­ese prod­ucts into fin­ished goods.”

East­ern Cape Fe­male En­trepreneur Award win­ners cel­e­brate.

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