Issued by the DRDAR Communication and Customer Care Services on 17 August 2023

It took 28-year-old King Sabata Dalindyebo based farmer Siphesihle Kwetana under five years to start a farming enterprise and turn it into a successful business.

Kwetana is one of the most successful farmers in the OR Tambo District and arguably, the province. Today, she made off with top honours at the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform’s Women Entrepreneur Awards held in Qumbu.

The awards are meant to recognise women who are involved in various capacities in the agricultural sector with awards that include prize money from subsistence to commercial level categories.

Kwetana beat other competitors in the Commercial Category and won first prize and not only that, but she also made off with the provincial overall prize. This sets her apart from the rest and will give her a competitive edge in the national leg of the awards to be held in the Free State Province.

An ecstatic Kwetana said she would use her R320 000 winnings to help her construct a dam where she plans to start an aquaculture project.

“The prize money will be used for staff salaries, assist in buying equipment for a butchery that I have built at KwaKaplan Village and also assist in the aquaculture project that I am going to be embarking on. Right now I am still doing research on the popular fish species so that I can proceed with fish farming,” she said.

Kwetana runs an agricultural enterprise in Mthatha where she has a piggery, poultry, vegetable and also sells seedlings. Kwetana, 28, sells her produce at food retail stores like Spar and Pick ‘n Pay. The confident young farmer said she is looking forward to competing in the national competition which will be held in August.

In her category, Kwetana beat livestock producer Sinovuyo Nzukuma who is running a thriving farm in the Chris Hani District. Nzukuma’s farm has more than 100 cattle. She was assisted by the Department with fencing, genetically superior cattle and a borehole.

For the MEC Special Award, Kholiswa Dabula, a partially blind farmer who survived a gruesome attach in Cape Town which left her eyes damaged won the MEC Special Award – Disability. Dabula was a bus driver in the Western Cape when her family was attacked by a bunch of thugs who left her for dead. Little did they know that their actions would propel Dabula to greater heights.

Dabula said she had lost all hope when she became partially blind after the attack. A bus driver then in Cape Town, Dabula had to abruptly end her stay in the seaside city after the attack and return home to the Eastern Cape to start over.

Despite being partially blind, Dabula did not let her sudden disability stand in her way, she started planting spinach in her backyard and would sell when she had surplus.

MEC Nonkqubela Pieters said the department was committed to supporting women farers and priorities and “fund the nominees that participated in the Women Entrepreneur Awards at district level of this current financial year.

She added that the department will support the nominees with production, infrastructure and through livestock improvement schemes.

The following categories were awarded today:

MEC Special Award – Youth

Runner-up: Cebokazi Galashe– R25 000 Winner: Neziswa Mlenzana – R50 000

MEC Special Award – Woman with Disability

Runner-up: Nowangile Jolwana – R25 000 Winner: Kholiswa Dabula – R50 000

Best Female Worker

Runner-up Linda Mgedezi – R25 000 Winner: Akhumzi Mkhontwana – R50 000

Best Subsistence Producer

Runner-up: Nomfesane Tshekela – R50 000 Winner: Nomalizo Mafanga – R75 000

Best Smallholder Producer

Runner-up: Tobela Mapukata – R80 000 Winner: Nontuthuzelo Mbebe – R120 000

Best Agro-Processor

Winner: Tuliswa Mondliwa – R80 000 Winner: Nokuzola James – R120 000

Best Commercial Producer

Runner-up: Sinovuyo Nzukuma – R80 000 Winner: Siphesihle Kwetana – R120 000

Overall Winner – Siphesihle Kwetana – R200 000