Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Senzeni Zokwana, says the contribution made by women in the farming sector cannot be underestimated as this is how they put food on the table for their families.
"It is about time we highlight the contribution made by women in the sector that is often regarded as the terrain of men," he said.
The Minister added that efforts need to be made to open up export market opportunities for female farmers.
Minister Zokwana was speaking at the DAFF Female Entrepreneur of the Year Awards held in Mafikeng, North West. The awards were held by DAFF and Total South Africa on Friday at the Mmabatho Convention Centre.
The awards were held to recognise the role of women and their contribution to Africa's agriculture and food security.
Total South Africa General Manager for Strategy, Pansy Mekwa, said the awards aimed to highlight stories of successful, emergent female farmers in the South Africa.
"Across Africa, female farmers produce more than 70% of the continent's food, but their efforts and ability are most often overlooked," said Mekwa.
She added that women had stories of hard work and innovation from their ability to overcome what are often seemingly insurmountable odds to turn 'making a living' into running a thriving business.
"They stand as inspiration to their communities, who benefit from their farming activities, either through food security or the creation of jobs," said Mekwa.
The awards were conceptualised to encourage and increase the participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities in the DAFF sectors.
The awards were also held in line with government's Programme of Action, as it seeks to contribute to mainstreaming of women, youth and people with disabilities in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, through food security, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation.
The 2014/15 Overall Winner went to Ivy Nokwanele Mzamo from Eastern Cape.
Among those who clinched awards were Hawukile Makhanya from KwaZulu Natal who wonw best female worker in the sector, Thandeka Moseki from the North West for best subsistence producer in the sector, Sandra Kroutz from Gauteng for top entrepreneur in the sector: smallholder and Anne Ruthford from the Western Cape for top entrepreneur processing in the sector.
Mponeng Lentoro from the Free State scooped the top award for top female entrepreneur in the sector: commercial, while Nokwanele Mzamo from Eastern Cape received one for top entrepreneur in the sector: export markets.
The Minister's special award went to Linah Mahlangu from Mpumalanga, as a way of acknowledging the contribution of young women and women living with disabilities entrepreneurs.
The Minister's special award on youth went to Leah Skosana from Mpumalanga, recognising upcoming youth entrepreneurs.