The University of Pretoria’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development was recently represented by four brilliant female students at the 9th annual PMA Fresh Connections: Southern African conference and trade show in Cape Town. The conference and trade show ran from 30 to 31 July 2019 and included top local and international speakers, roundtable discussions, and the opportunity to network with leaders in the produce and floral industry in Southern Africa.
On the morning of 30 July 2019, Chikomborero Chiobvu, Zamangwane Sangweni, Khanimamba Hlungwani and Taaibah Miller attended the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast with the very entertaining Caroline Ravenall as guest speaker. During her session, Caroline spoke about the typical characteristics that make for a great leader. “Caroline is a strong, empowered woman, not defined by the societal standards of ‘perfection’ but confident and empowering in who she is and what she has to say – what a great example!”, Zamangwane.
Following the Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast, Chikomborero interacted with some of the leading women in the very male-dominated fresh produce industry, “interacting with these hard-working females made me realise that this industry has so much potential for women. A conversation I had with the very inspirational Mbali Nwoko, Chief Executive Farmer of Green Terrace (Pty) Ltd about self-confidence in the industry left me walking with so much pride in myself.”
The remainder of the event contained sessions of Southern Africa’s fresh produce industry, the latest trends and possible disruptions. Khanimamba and Taaibah enjoyed this the most as it gave them the reassurance that they are exactly where they need to be to make the change that they want to see in the world. “I made so many connections that I believe is the start of great working relationships. It was inspiring to see how the industry also has women playing key roles because prior to my attendance, I had believed the stigma that agriculture is a male-dominated industry. It was heartwarming to see young female entrepreneurs taking the lead in the agricultural industry.”
As a Department, we are proud of Chikomborero, Zamangwane, Khanimamba, and Taaibah, and we are eager to see what they accomplish in the near future. In the words of the late Toni Morrison: “…just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab bag candy game.” – What a great way to empower four future female leaders in celebration of women’s month!
Thank you to PMA South Africa and the Citrus Academy for their generous contributions to the students' attendance.