The Sasol Farmers Development Programme has seen 320 emerging farmers around the Gert Sibande Municipality being upskilled. This programme kicked-off in 2018 in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA), the African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) and the Buhle Farmers Academy. 110 emerging farmers were recruited in December 2020 and recently completed their training in May 2021.
The Agri Seta accredited training focuses on four disciplines offering practical and theoretical training in Farm Business Management, Vegetable Production, Livestock Production and Poultry Production. The training consists out of two and a half months for livestock production and poultry production, and three months for vegetable production.
The vegetable production training covers land preparation and soil fertility, application of crop protection products, harvesting and marketing of products. While the poultry production covers brooding and post brooding management of poultry chicks, administer record keeping functions in poultry production, farm business management and business plan development and presentation. The livestock production training offers theoretical livestock management, animal healthcare practices, farm business management, business plan development and presentation.
R3. 4 million has been invested in the programme for the past three years by Sasol. The aim is to improve the livelihood of farmers in rural communities and enable them to run viable farming businesses while improving their chances of employability in the agriculture sector.
Mashudu Ndou, Head Community Affairs at Sasol Regional Operations and Asset Services (ROAS) said: “We started this programme focusing at the Govan Mbeki area only, but we have since incorporated the entire Gert Sibande District. The programme has been positioned to be sustainable and to deliver economic value to emerging farmers. I am glad that the stakeholders which we began this journey with five years ago are still here. Together we have witnessed many success stories.”
With an uncomplicated entry criteria, this training programme is open to farmers and individuals who are actively involved in agriculture. Potential participants must have access to land, even if it’s just a small portion of land eg backyard farming. The next intake is scheduled to take place in August 2021, more details will be announced in local media and on social networks. Should you have any questions or want to know more about the programme, please phone the Buhle Academy on 087 803 0563.
Youth in Agriculture
Amos Mathebula (34) and Gugu Shange (31) are the proud owners of Too Fresh Produce Farm based in Morgenzon, close to Ermelo, as part of the Lekwa Municipality. This duo is now supplying to the local Shoprite and other supermarkets in the Morgenzon area with their fresh produce. Their business focuses on the production of cabbages, spinach, beetroot and jalapeno peppers.
The turning point for them began in 2019 when they took part in Sasol’s Farmers Development Programme, an initiative implemented in partnership with Buhle Farmers Academy and AFASA. Gugu says “the great thing about the initiative is that, the programme is holistically designed to develop a farmer’s skills from production to market and 95 percent of your time is spent practical, in the field. Participants also learn that it’s not just about farming it’s about business.” Gugu is an ‘all-rounder’ farmer, who also received training in animal and poultry production from Sasol’s Farmers Development Programme. Amos accounts his success to broadening his network with people in the agricultural space, the training he acquired from Sasol’s Farmers Development Programme and the support he received from AFASA. Amos’ journey humbly began with cultivating his grandfather’s garden. He says his success has also attracted young people who are curious and interested in taking on farming.
Lindokuhle Sikhonde (26) is also an emerging farmer who graduated this year in poultry farming, she is based in Secunda. Lindokuhle is the proud owner of Ndalo-Enhle Poultry, established in 2019 she started with few hens and sells the eggs to the community at a cheaper price. She says “when I saw the advert in the Secunda newspaper, the Ridge Times, calling emerging farmers to participate in Sasol’s Farmers Development Programme I grabbed the opportunity, applied and luckily I was selected. The programme did not just teach me how to grow a chicken from a day old chick, but the programme taught me how to do marketing as well. I learned what the business of farming is. In order for my business to grow I need to be profitable. The goal now is to expand and employ people inform my community and supply to bigger markets. I am still in the beginning stages, but I am optimistic on what I want to achieve.”
Sasol is very proud of this successful five year partnership that has empowered 320 farmers in various farming disciplines from the Gert Sibande Municipality.