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About Sabela & FSG

The Farmer Support Group (FSG) in KZN and Sabela Leadership and Development Initiative have partnered with SkillEd to strengthen the capacity of female-dominated smallholder farmer groups to access useful agricultural information, share and exchange knowledge about production using mobile phones. The three principal institutions in the project will also work with the departments of agriculture, local government and rural development in the respective provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

The FSG was established in 1985 in the Department of Plant Pathology of the, then, University of Natal, with the aim of making relevant scientific knowledge available to smallholder farmers. It now conducts action research to address issues pertinent to resource-constrained farmers. It also provides training, advice and project support in sustainable farming (including agroecology), nature conservation, strengthening local institutions, and enterprise development. Training is provided to development practitioners and students in participatory approaches to research and extension. Community members and other partner service providers, including government extension staff and scientists participate in designing and implementation of projects.

The FSG is conscious of the challenge to alleviate food insecurity and poverty in the previously disadvantaged smallholder farming sector in South Africa, with a major focus on women and the youths. Most communal areas in South Africa face severe land degradation, unemployment, low income, and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and its associated impact on livelihoods. Most of these challenges are rooted in the legacy of the apartheid era when agricultural production and food self-sufficiency were systematically undermined in favour of formal employment. The smallholder farming system has many facets – human, financial, social, natural, physical, etc. – that interact and need to be considered in devising any interventions. The appropriate methods for addressing these challenges in a South African context are only beginning to emerge now in the development community.

Sabela is a registered NPO, established in 2016 by a group of women as a call to act by women as leaders to support each other and also seek support and partnerships from other key stakeholders. We seek to empower women and girls, develop their leadership skills, in turn they go out to advocate and lead other women in promoting rights and justice movement. Sabela utilises the ‘spectrum of change’ model, drawing on a broad range of social change strategies that include:

  • Partnering with government to promote policy development and effective implementation
  • Fosters networks, partnerships and coalitions among women enterprises locally, national and international
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • Advocacy, activism and community mobilization and education
  • Capacity building and training with partner organizations
  • Promote Innovative communication strategies for social change
  • Research, Monitoring, Documentation and Evaluation