Agriculture has always played a core role in East and Central Africa and is one of the main economic activities in these areas and the larger African continent. The two major types of farming in the continent are subsistence farming which is done mainly in a small scale and is mainly to feed a family and commercial farming where cash crops are grown almost exclusively for sale.
In South Africa, the land that is mainly used for agricultural practices such as growing crops is slightly over fifty percent but good arable land is a mere twenty percent. The crops that are grown are maize, wheat, oats, fruits, sugarcane and sunflowers. Cattle ranching, dairy farming, sheep, pig, chicken and game farming are also practiced widely. Aqua farming is the growing of particular edible fish species for sale. This type of farming is also very prevalent in South Africa.
South Africa is one of the countries in the continent that rarely suffers from mass famine and drought as compared to countries in the horn of Africa. This is because it has a fairly stable political system that promotes agricultural development. The people have also mastered the ability to use methods, such as irrigation, to use land that would otherwise not be suitable for farming to grow crops and rear animals. In fact, about fifty percent of the nation’s water is used for farming purposes.
The country has seven different climates and as a result of the unpredictable weather, many farmers have opted to rear animals and livestock farming is one of the biggest earners in the country. Hardy animals are preferred because they are able to survive in the country. Breeds such as Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey and Ayrshire are the most popular for dairy farming because they are hardy animals and they produce high volumes of milk. While indigenous breeds such as Afrikaner, Nguni, Bonsmara and Drakensberger are reared and also cross bred with European and American breeds such as Charolais, Hereford, Angus and others. The cross bred breeds will be able to become superior because they combine the best of the indigenous and foreign breeds. South Africa is one of the biggest exporters of ostrich products such as meat and feathers.
For women to become more involved in farming in South Africa the infrastructure has to be developed and where it exists, increased. This is to enable the movement of goods that are farmed to become expedited. This is because farm crops, horticultural products and animals that have been slaughtered will spoil quickly and the transportation needs to be quick and efficient. Even wool and ostrich feathers, which South Africa is a big exporter of, need careful and fast transportation. The women also need increased trade incentives so as to engage in farming activities. Teaching them new and efficient farming methods and helping them keep up with new technology is another way to help women in South Africa become a bigger force in farming.
As is evident above, the government must work together with non governmental organizations in helping women to become farmers in South Africa.
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