By Rachel Mackenzie, Growcom Chief Advocate
I get to meet a lot of amazing women in my job as Growcom Chief Advocate and most of them live and work on horticulture farms.
One of the things that constantly strikes me is how many of these women downplay their role on the farm and refer to themselves as “farmers wives” or state that their husband is a grower and give themselves no credit for their input.
Now don’t get me wrong I come from a long line of farmers’ wives, but I think international women’s day is a good time to encourage you, some of industry’s biggest assets, to get some recognition for your contribution.
Many women on horticulture farms are the accountant, the HR manager, the Quality Assurance manager and wholesaler liaison officer, as well as actively participating in or managing the picking, packing and other crucial jobs in the running of your enterprises. If this doesn’t qualify you to at least count yourself as an equal partner in the business then I don’t know what does.
I know it goes against the grain of many people in agriculture to self promote but I see this issue as important for getting improved understanding of how our industry works by government and other key stakeholders.
We are trying to build appreciation of the fact that horticulture operators are first and foremost business people, and need the same consideration that other businesses are afforded. Of course we love the land and our communities and we produce food which is an important social function, but if we can’t turn a buck then there is no point.
Ultimately by downplaying the role of women, we are effectively halving the socio-economic input of the farm and allowing policy makers to paint us as a bunch of “Mum and Dad type operators” who need to be regulated by government and bossed around by the rest of the supply chain.
Many horticulture enterprises are sophisticated 21st century businesses that go far beyond putting stuff in the ground and hoping for favourable weather, and need to be recognized as such.
The role of intelligent, talented and determined women in keeping these businesses going needs to be recognised and celebrated. This does not diminish other equally important roles for women such as being a mother or a wife, but when the world is listening, make sure your voice as a horticulture business person is heard. After all, when most people think of farmers’ wives, those poor old mice spring to mind.