It’s not easy being a female farmer in the boy’s club of agriculture, but 62-year-old Mahadi Mopeli is not easily deterred. The story of this librarian-turned-farmer is told in tonight’s episode of For the love of the land, broadcast on DStv and Openview.
In her own words, “Women are nurturers by nature; once they get into the agriculture space, one can only expect miracles”. Mopeli has overcome life’s hardest hurdles and she is encouraging the youth to change their perspectives about farming.
Her inspiring story will be broadcast at 18:00 and 21:00 tonight and 10:00 tomorrow morning. Be sure to tune in on People’s Weather (PPL WX) on DStv channel 180 and Openview channel 115.
In anticipation of the show, produced by Food For Mzansi in partnership with the VKB Group, Mopeli chats to Gugulethu Mahlangu, a Gauteng-based farmer and participant of Food For Mzansi’s Sinelizwi citizen journalism programme.
Gugulethu Mahlangu: Mahadi, you managed to lease land from the government. How can one apply for the government land?
Mahadi Mopeli: You must first find out if there is any available land in your area, then find out when applications open and close. These forms must be filled in accurately. Should you have any challenges completing the form, the department can assist you. All you need to do is ask.
As a female farmer in this business, what’s your biggest concern about young females entering the agriculture space?
The biggest challenge is that most of the young females do not initially understand just how much work it is to be in the agriculture space. They also don’t understand that in order to be a successful farmer, you need to get down and be dirty, work as had as your farmworkers do. There’s no glamour in farming, it is hard but rewarding.
What do you produce on your farm and who do you sell it to at what price?
Soybeans, dry beans, mielies, and we keep livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep. We usually sell to big corporations such as VKB, Afgri, at auctions, private buyers and the community at large. The prices to the corporations depend on the quality of our harvest and it’s usually sold at a set price. I can decide my own prices when I sell to my community.
What is the impact that female farmers have in the agriculture sector?
Women are nurturers by nature. Once they get into the agriculture space, one can only expect miracles. Women have always played a huge role in agriculture, as we know that historically they’d be responsible for farming when men were away at war or working at the mines. Having women in the agriculture sector brings a wealth of passion and experience that one requires in order to be a success.
You are very educated. What role do you think education plays in agriculture?
Thank you for the compliment. What I have come to notice is that being educated in any field does not necessarily mean being certificated in that field. This is very true in the agriculture space, there’s farmers that are extremely successful without having received any formal education in it. This is a sector that needs more wisdom, of course education means you will add value to the farming experience and impart knowledge.
Fun question time, what is your favourite bakkie?
My favourite bakkie is by far the Mahindra Scorpio. It offers comfort and functionality.
Be sure to tune in tonight on People’s Weather (PPL WX) on DStv channel 180 and Openview channel 115 to see Mahadi Mopeli in episode 6 of For the love of the land. The episode is broadcast at 18:00 and 21:00 tonight and 10:00 tomorrow morning. Tune in tomorrow evening at the same times for episode 7.