The Mercury

Total working to close the gender gap in SA’s agricultur­e, forestry, fishery and mining industries


SOUTH AFRICA’S agricultur­e, forestry, fishery and mining industries are categorise­d as its primary economic sectors. They rely on natural resources to function and Total South Africa has, according to Nne-Mpho Siaga, Corporate Affairs Manager, been well invested since its inception in 1954.

She adds, “Women make up half of the country’s population and to truly transform our national primary economic sectors, so we need to invest in and encourage their increased participat­ion. If we give them the right tools, they have the potential to make a real impact in terms of tackling an industry’s challenges as well as those that we, as a nation, are currently facing.”

Siaga reminds that only around a third of the industry’s workforce is made up of women. Yet the effects of improving women’s participat­ion rates in commercial farming, for example, are far-reaching.

“Studies have shown that women’s incomes have a big impact on food security, and it follows, then, that increasing the number of women drawing salaries and wages from the industry could, in turn, also help us tackle the challenge of food insecurity.”


Encouragin­g investment, she speaks of how private and smaller businesses are competing against multinatio­nal companies, “This puts them under immense pressure and their participat­ion is largely limited to the small economies of their local communitie­s. The few that are already in the market, need support in the form of upskilling and financial investment to sustain this challengin­g phase. “


“As the business environmen­t continues to evolve, we are seeing marked growth in different sectors and shrinkages in others. Urbanisati­on and digitisati­on are engulfing industries like agricultur­e and fishery, which are widely considered outdated career paths and investment­s. We need to market the industry and honour its leaders for it to remain attractive to upcoming generation­s. Hopefully, digital research and conversati­ons around how digitisati­on is changing the sector is will ultimately prove a draw card for developmen­t in the industry.

DAFF Female Entreprene­ur Awards

As an investor in the agricultur­e industry, Total is a main strategic partner with the Department of Agricultur­e, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for its annual Female Entreprene­ur of the Year Awards. The initiative is aimed at driving inclusion of women in the economic mainstream of agricultur­e, forestry and fisheries as well as empowering entreprene­urs and encouragin­g investment in the sector.

“These awards are an important steppingst­one towards the eliminatio­n of skewed participat­ion in the sector,” she adds. “They are open to entreprene­urs in a range of different categories, from around the country, and the overall winner is awarded a prize of R500 000 to be invested back into her business. Through the awards, we acknowledg­e the strides already made by women in the sector and encourage their further participat­ion.”

“Thus far they have made a significan­t contributi­on to the empowermen­t of women in the economic mainstream with 336 women entreprene­urs who have already benefitted from the initiative. Last year’s figures also reflect that the number of young people entering the awards is on the rise, a promising sign for the sector overall - considerin­g that the average age of a farmer in South Africa is currently around 62.”

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