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City awards women farmers certificates

Sixteen small-scale women farmers from various co-operatives in Johannesburg were on Tuesday December 6 awarded certificates at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein after successfully completing a gruelling eight-month food-processing course.

An initiative of the City of Johannesburg’s Department of Health and Social Development, the course was provided in partnership with leading hospitality group Forever Resorts.

Food processing is a system that combines raw foods to create products that can be easily prepared and served to consumers.

Addressing the graduates, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse said the agri-food processing sector was vital to growing the economy.

“You will not only be a blessing to your communities but you will also be self-sustaining. We as the City are really committed to ensuring that farming grows in Johannesburg. We’re going to support you to grow even stronger,” Cllr Phalatse said.

She said she hoped that the support of entrepreneurs in the farming sector, including the agri-food processors, would contribute to meeting the 5% economic growth target set by Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba.

Homemade chutney, pickled chilli, cheese and herb bread, beetroot salad and peach jam were some of the products on display at the graduation ceremony.

Hotel giant Sun International has expressed interest in buying fresh produce and processed products from the women farmers.

One of the graduates, Joyce Mogodu of Bramfischerville in Soweto, applauded the City for empowering small-scale urban women farmers in this way.

Mogodu grows mealies, spinach, pumpkins and peaches on her small farm. “We are thankful to the City for taking us this far. You've shown us that it can be done. We know you will assist us to scale greater heights,” she said.

An excited Maria Sefholo, who grows spinach, beetroot, green pepper, parsley and herbs on her Eikenhof farm, south of Johannesburg, said it was important to work as a unit.

“Getting this certificate means the world to me. We don’t get these opportunities often. The City has been very supportive throughout this training. As farmers we have learned from each other. Our dream is to grow. We are capable and can do it,” said Sefholo.

Flora Twala of Berea has been growing spinach, pumpkins, tomatoes and onions since 2010. She says the opportunity came at the right time.

“This certificate encourages us to work harder than this. I learned a lot about food processing. One of the things it taught me is that food must not go to waste. My dream is to be a big commercial farmer who will supply big retailers. I will encourage other women to take up farming as well,” said Twala​