Women taking their rightful place in agriculture in Correctional Services

06a-October-2020MAIN
Correctional Services is one of the largest departments in the public service offering vast career opportunities, which all contribute to the combined process of correcting offending behaviour, human development and the promotion of social responsibility for inmates.

Agricultural production is one of the most useful skills that inmates take home after serving their sentences. Department of Correctional Services (DCS) skilled professionals in agricultural science, such as Ms. Bellini Dube from Grootvlei Management Area in the Free State/Northern Cape Region, are instrumental in ensuring that offenders are equipped and prepared for successful social reintegration, and that DCS achieves the desired self-sufficiency through optimal utilization of correctional centre farm land.

After completing high school at Kimberley Technical in 2001, where she was born and raised, Dube progressed to the North-West University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Crop Science as well as a junior degree in Agriculture. She joined the Department in 2011 as Manager: Agriculture, at Grootvlei Management Area, breaking gender stereotypes in the farming industry.

Her day-to-day tasks include supervision of officials and monitoring of all agricultural enterprises on the farm. She is also responsible for authorizing all logistical transactions for agriculture, expenditure/procurement of agriculture related goods as well as production related transactions (i.e. approving of commodities produced, livestock variations, breeding, slaughtering, transfer from one age category to the other and so on).

There are six enterprises at Grootvlei Management Area, which include dairy, beef, vegetable, fodder production, egg production and piggery.

Dube obtained her honors Degree in Agriculture from the University of Free State. Raised by a single mother, she had this to say when asked about the challenges she encountered when she joined the department, more especially in a male-dominated environment such as agriculture. “Joining DCS as a young black woman in an environment that is usually dominated by white males has seen me transform my weaknesses and fears into persistence and courage proving that it is possible for someone like me to lead in the field of agriculture.

“My journey from 2011 to date has not been without challenges. I had to deal with the preconceptions that come with being young, black and female, and having to lead a team that has been in the department for almost as long as I have been alive,” she said. However, Dube vows that the experience only made her more resilient over the years not because she had anything to prove but simply because she knew her potential.

She said being part of a diverse organisation has been for her a process of conscious evolution and growth. She further alluded that an integral part of her growth has been the sense of responsibility and accountability. “I am proud to say that I have made numerous contributions to the operational management and bottom line in our Management Area,” said Dube.

She went further and elaborated about her future plans as far as her career is concerned. “My work and colleagues have given me constant incentives to improve myself and to gain more knowledge. It has helped me develop thorough insight into the field of agriculture and this had me returning to the academic world once more for further growth. In 2017, I obtained my Master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of Free State. The degree has provided me with the necessary knowledge and skills to gain a better perspective on development issues in our country. I do not want to limit myself to agriculture, hence the diversifying of my skills,” Dube said.

On the highlights of her career, she said that it was her attendance of the African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF) 3rd conference (an initiative of the African Development Bank) in Cape Town. AYAF is a platform that serves to bring youth together in agriculture across Africa to scale up the scrape and to influence their activities.

With women taking their rightful place in agriculture, it is said that women farmers could increase their yields by at least 30% if they had access to the same equipment and machinery as male farmers.

 

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