Mzansi farmers share their dreams for 2021

2020 was a rough one, and to many the idea of even making New Year’s resolutions might seem a tad overwhelming. Our farmers are hopeful, though, and more inspired than ever to feed the nation.

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What can we say about a year like 2020? Between covid-19, mass unemployment and a crippled economy, just about the greater part of the year has been an unspeakable series of misfortunes for many. But Mzansi farmers believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If anything, the year has put the agricultural sector in the spotlight. So, three cheers for the farmers and workers who have fed the nation in, quite arguably, the toughest year in at least a century. Farmers say 2020 has taught them patience, and inspired them to do even better. They share some of the toughest lessons learned, new insights and what they hope for the year 2021.

Annalea van Niekerk from Reitz, Free State

Annalea Van Niekerk thrives as a cattle farmer in the Free State. Photo: Supplied

The past year was an amazing journey and a big experience. Many things happened that I could have never imagined.
From being nominated for Free State Agriculture’s Young Farmer of the Year, to receiving Sussex South Africa’s Young Breeder of the Year award, and also being featured on the Vir Die Liefde Van Die Land TV series – it’s been an amazing year despite covid-19.
As a farmer, it is a blessing to be in the agricultural sector because we are considered essential services and can go on with our business despite the covid-19 lockdown. It remains a blessing to feed the nation.
For the year to come, I have big plans and hopefully they will all work out. Hopefully more of my dreams will come alive. We need to set some goals every year. One of mine is to just inspire people, and to be a voice for women in agriculture. We need to be included discussions, and help each other to fulfil our dreams as farmers.
It’s important to encourage women in the agricultural sector, and help them realise that they can do anything. My 2021 plan is also to expand my stud. I am very excited. I must say, 2020 opened my mind to new possibilities. People need to realise that they need to dream bigger. I didn’t think the things that have happened to me were possible, but it was.

ALSO READ: ‘Don’t go with the flow like a dead fish’ says young farmer

Njabulo Mbokane from Ermelo, Mpumalanga

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Tumelo Olifant from Taung, North West

Tumelo Olifant is a Bonsmara farmer in North West. Photo: Supplied

Everyone should be happy that 2020 is coming to an end, even though we don’t really know what will come our way in 2021. We can safely say 2020 was a mad year!
I’m looking forward to 2021, though. It started raining a bit earlier this year, and 2021 might just already be way better than the last three to four years – especially for those of us who farm with livestock on dryland.
My New Year’s resolution, for now, is just to stay prepared. The new year will come with blessings, so let us use that to our advantage. Obviously, I also hope to increase my livestock. For those who want to start farming, start now, even though the prices are going to be a bit high. It will be tricky, but let us increase numbers.

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Refilwe Coetzee from Magareng, Northern Cape

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Ipeleng Kwadi from Brits, North West

Owner and CEO of Motsobella Farming Enterprise, Ipeleng Kwadi, is spreading her wings and building her own agri empire In Brits in the North West, Photo: supplied.
Ipeleng Kwadi. Photo: Supplied

My New Year’s wish for myself and other subsistence farmers is simply to make strides towards commercialisation.
I really want all women in agriculture to be taken more seriously, and I will make an effort to continuously celebrate and uplift other female farmers. I wish all farmers a success in their farming activities for 2021.

ALSO READ: Leaving the family farm to chase dreams

Tsholo Monakane from Kimberley, Northern Cape

Tsholo Monakane. Photo: Facebook

This year taught us that we do not have any control over what happens in the world. We can take control, though, and make a choice for better or worse.
I am going to scoop up the remains of this crazy year and take whatever I can from it. I want to plant a hectare of cabbage, a hectare of spinach, carrots, beetroots and green beans. And I will use another hectare dedicated to building my poultry, piggery and rabbitry interests.
Even if 2021 turns out to be bad in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, I can still get better with my little farm.

Olerile Lekgetho from Lykso, North West

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Susan van der Merwe from Groblershoop, Northern Cape

Susan van der Merwe (60) is the reigning cotton queen of the Northern Cape. Photo: Supplied.
Susan van der Merwe is the reigning cotton queen of the Northern Cape. Photo: Supplied

My New Year’s resolutions include remaining positive about agriculture despite political attacks. In 2021, I’ll rather see the glass as half full instead of half empty.
I also want to maintain my good relationships with my workers, and ensure a higher yield in my cotton and the quality thereof.
I would also like for everyone to realise the value of water more, and to appreciate it. That we will irrigate at the right time and place… Lastly, I’ve always trusted the Lord in all my decisions and work proceedings, and I will continue to do so come 2021. I will continue to ask Him for advice and guidance in my farming journey. 

ALSO READ: Tannie Susan, the cotton queen of the Northern Cape

Nkosinathi Makamela from Iditutywa, Eastern Cape

20-year-old Nkosinathi Makamela is a young man who recently took his first steps into the small-scale farming, but he has big dreams to become a commercial farmer in the future. Photo: Supplied
20-year-old Nkosinathi Makamela is a young man who recently took his first steps into the small-scale farming.. Photo: Supplied

My New Year’s resolutions is just to have a fresh start. In 2020, I started farming with pigs and crops. For 2021, my dream is to add poultry farming too.

I also really want to become a better farmer. I used to sell vegetables in my local community and on the street, but in 2021 I want to sell my vegetables at supermarkets while still serving my community.

I also want to plant soya beans, more pumpkins, more maize and watermelons as I want to make my own pig feed.

The king in our village gave me land for my free-range pig farming, so next year I’ll start with that. I want to employ between one and three people and I will also balance my time because as a student at the University of Fort Hare where I am currently studying animal science.

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Andile Simelane from Kwa-Nongoma, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Eugene Simons from Cape Town, Western Cape

Farmer Eugene Simons. Photo: Supplied

We are definitely going bigger next year. That’s the plan. My New Year’s resolution is to, at all times, apply Matthew 17:20 that talks about having faith like a mustard seed.
It’s important to have faith when you are running a business. I also want my business to be sustainable at all times next year. 2020 was a very rough year, but we made it work. I believe 2021 will be a better year.

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Gugulethu Mahlangu from Boksburg, Gauteng

Gugulethu Mahlangu

My New Year’s resolution is to become more intentional with my business. This year was a learning curve, and I’m so grateful for the losses and wins.
I’m not missing any opportunities next year. I’m going to try to grow new crops, penetrate new markets, brand myself more fiercely and look at making greater profits.

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Tsakani Mhlongo from Tzaneen, Limpopo

Gopane Babedi from Gopane, North West

Gopane Babedi

2020 was a tough year, to say the least. My New Year’s resolution is to be a better farmer. I have learnt from my mistakes in 2020, and next year I want to improve my skills, and do more than what I did this year.
I love farming. Farming is life, and I thank God for trusting me with this gift of calling myself a farmer.

Thapelo Khopodithate from Kuruman, Northern Cape

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