Reviving opportunities for small-scale farmers

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Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

By Lucas Ledwaba

Jackson Mogome Kadiaka, 43, is a happy man. The hard work of the past few years is finally paying off. His face beams with satisfaction when he announces that some of the produce from this very plot is now on the shelves of a leading national retail supermarket.

More of the produce from here, including garlic, peppermint, mint and rosemary will soon be finding their way into the kitchens of many households in Limpopo province through his partnership with the national retail supermarket.

Kadiaka runs Ngwaaga a’ Moloto Eco Tourism Village in Bolatšane, Ga-Mphahlele, 45km south of Limpopo’s capital, Polokwane. He applies permaculture methods of farming, which is an indigenous way of agriculture.

Mogome Jackson Kadiaka harvests chillis from his permaculture farm Ngwaaga ‘a Moloto Eco-Tourism Village in GaMphahlele, Limpopo province. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba Mukurukuru Media

He is one of the beneficiaries of government’s efforts to support and uplift small-scale farmers. Besides landing a contract to supply a branch of a national retail supermarket based in Lebowakgomo with his produce, Ngwaaga a’ Moloto has also been granted authority to start offering training towards a National Certificate in Plant Production by the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA).

Kadiaka also has a partnership with the University of Limpopo, University of Tokyo in Japan and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

In his recent State of the Province Address in Polokwane, Premier Chupu Mathabatha said that in order to maximise the economic benefits from the agricultural sector and fight poverty, government has identified five Agricultural Development Zones (ADZs) across the province. He said the zones are meant to support the socio-economic priorities of the province.

Contributing to provincial GDP

Agriculture is the third biggest contributor to the provincial GDP after mining and tourism.  The province, through smallholder farmers and large-scale commercial farmers, produces a wide variety of agricultural produce. This ranges from tropical fruit such as banana, mango, maize, wheat and vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and potatoes.

“Our programme to support smallholder farmers in order to improve productivity was also intensified during this period,” he said.

Roadside hawker Matsie Mantloana holds up one of the big cabbages produced in the fertile farms near Ofcolaco. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba Mukurukuru Media

The majority of smallholder farmers are located mostly in the former homeland areas, covering approximately 30% of the provincial land surface area. However, they face challenges characterised by low level of production technology and small farm holdings of approximately 1,5 hectares per farmer; with production primarily for subsistence and little marketable surplus.

Mathabatha said as part of this programme, over 99,000 smallholder producers were supported with agricultural advice with regard to aspects of maximising production.

“Almost 54,000 smallholder producers received support in the form of irrigation infrastructure, livestock infrastructure and various production inputs. Over 1,000 farmers are being trained annually to enhance their knowledge and skills relating to advanced production practices,” said Mathabatha.

He said government has also given life to its commitment to revitalise small-scale irrigation schemes. Mathabatha said since 2014, government has managed to revitalise smallholder irrigation schemes in Phetwane, Hereford, Elandskraal, Mapela, Matsika, Priska, Nwanedi and Mbhahela.

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Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

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