by ANNA NTABANE
MBOMBELA, (Mpumalanga Guardian) – A NUMBER of women, most of them young, are holding their own in the male-dominated farming sector in the province.
Among these inspirational breed of award-winning farmers is 34-year-old Emily Mtsweni, the brains behind Sabelo Sethu farming primary cooperative established in 2009.
The farming project majoring on rearing chickens and vegetables has grown into a venture with seasonal revenues of around R700 000.
It is located in Verena, under Thembisile Hani Local Municipality in Nkangala District.
In an interview with Mpumalanga Guardian, Mtsweni, explained the project started operations in 2011 with the hope of eradicating poverty and creating employment.
Eight years earlier, she had finished her Matric. She later studied Financial Management at the Nkangala Further Education and Training (FET), rated the largest educational institution in Mpumalanga.
“After studying I realised that there were actually no jobs. So, I had to create one for myself,” Mtsweni said.
Her breakthrough came when she won the 2015 Youth Special accolade at the provincial Female Entrepreneur Awards.
The then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) assisted her to embark on an entrepreneur course following her recognition.
“With the prize money from DAFF entrepreneur awards, I fully equipped the third layer for my chickens,” Mtsweni told this publication.
She also receives continuous advisory services and support from the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs.
The relationship has ever been solid.
“I started by planting vegetables at the backyard of Verena Primary School assisted by the department, which assisted with tractors and give us the seed and fertilizers,” she recalled.
Mtsweni also received assistance from Department of Trade and Industry.
She employs two permanent workers.
Sabelo Sethu sells its produce to local retailers and the community.
Mtsweni expressed confidence the enterprise would overcome electricity challenges and maintain its growth.
“I want to grow this farm and create job opportunities for the community and try to alleviate poverty. I’m planning to expand the enterprise due to growing demand,” she concluded.