The growing influence of women in agriculture in South Africa abounds, and although there are so many praiseworthy stories of female farmers, we also need to celebrate the network of women working within agriculture that support and equip these farmers to do the wonderful work they are doing. At Koppert, we have a team of diverse and dedicated women working with farmers across the country to help them become Partners with Nature. Today, we celebrate you, ladies!
“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it.” These are the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai. A wonderful motivation and inspiration, especially in working toward Koppert’ vision of making agriculture healthier, safer, and more productive. With a long list of MSc degrees, our team is using their skills and education to assist, advise and educate others to realise the responsibility we have in being stewards of this beautiful planet by using biological control and finding solutions within nature.
When speaking to any of our team, their passion for their work is self-evident. As Lizann Joubert, Technical Advisor for Free State and Lesotho describes it: “I love the contribution we make to our planet and the people I get to work with inside and outside of Koppert. I love being a partner with nature and having the opportunity and ability to have a hands-on approach in connecting our clients with better and more sustainable methods in agriculture.” For our Research & Development Manager, Jean-Mare Truter, her love of nature motivated her to work within the agricultural space. “I have always wanted to work in nature. In working for Koppert you are part of a family and the diversity of the work, and the team ensures there is never a dull moment!” The feeling that We are family, one of Koppert’ core values, echoes through many of the teams’ conversations.
Whether growing up within a farming community; like Karla-Mart Fullard, our Technical Advisor for Limpopo, or in rural KwaZulu Natal; like Andiswa Msitshana, Quality Control, Agri runs through this team's veins. “I truly appreciate the opportunities agriculture holds to help others and contribute to the provision of food and the economic growth of our country,” says Karla-Mart.
But what is it like for women in South Africa to work within a space that was traditionally more a male working environment? “You have to be willing to take risks, educate yourself and build a strong support network” advises Andiswa. Most of our team have experienced some challenges in working in agriculture as a female. Mabel du Toit; Technical Advisor for Gauteng and North West shares: “Yes, you have to prove yourself, but do not be intimidated – be confident in the knowledge and skills that you have to offer.” And what would their advice be to young women with a passion for agriculture?
“It is not about being a man or a woman. If you are passionate about what you do, there is nothing you cannot do. This industry has many opportunities for young people,” says Nadia Grobler, Regulatory Affairs & Product Development. Lizann concludes: “The agricultural space is a lot bigger than you can imagine. Do proper research and find an area that you have a passion for. Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life!”