In 2018, the Vodacom Foundation, in partnership with UN Women introduced Female Farmers programme, created equal opportunities for women and youth from South Africa's deep rural areas by equipping them with digital literacy capabilities. To date, the programme, which is focused on empowering smallholder female farmers within the country's agriculture sector, has trained 350 small-scale female farmers in rural areas of Limpopo province alone, and aims to increase this number in this new financial period across the country.
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According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the value of agricultural production in South Africa increased by 4,7% and was estimated at R281,370m in 2017/18, while its contribution to the GDP was estimated to be R90,458m at nominal prices in 2017.
The primary agricultural sector has shown a growth of 7, 5% annually since 1994. The contribution of agriculture’s value added to GDP declined from 3, 9% in 1994 to 2, 2% in 2017. Despite its relatively small share of the total GDP, primary agriculture is an important sector in the South African economy. Agriculture remains a significant provider of employment, especially in rural areas and employs around 700,000 workers.
Chief officer: corporate affairs at Vodacom, Takalani Netshitenzhe said: "Vodacom believes in using technology to transform people’s lives.
"After realising that the female farmers in the Limpopo UN Women program lacked digital literacy skills, the Vodacom Foundation availed the Vodacom supported Teacher Centres in Limpopo to provide basic computer literacy in order to prepare them for the introduction of the Vodacom “Connected Farmer App” which was launched in 2017 to connect small scale farmers across the agricultural value chain.
"The app has already revolutionised small scale farming in Kenya through Safaricom with already over 900,000 registered farmers. This partnership with UN Women is part of Vodacom’s support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #2 and #5, on Zero Hunger and Gender Equality."
Vodacom’s female farmer programme involves:
• Linking digital literacy to the day-to-day running of the farming business.
• Using social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc.) to enable the female farmers to reach out to the outside world, and promote their farm produces.
• Providing female farmers with the necessary tools and resources to establish themselves as valuable contributors to the South African agriculture industry.
"Our female farmer initiative shines the spotlight on emerging small scale female farmers within the agriculture sector.
"We’re confident that going forward, the initiative will help in driving development in rural parts of our country, thereby strengthening food security, and assisting SA female farmers in claiming a stake in the agricultural sector, more so for farmers who find themselves in rural parts of the country," concluded Netshitenzhe.