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
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.
Njabulo Mbokane from Ermelo, Mpumalanga
Holidays are definitely not a regular occurrence for many farmers. I am grateful to still be working and pursuing my passion through this difficult period. Let us stay safe and protect ourselves from this deadly virus.#Farmsol #Farmsolyouthambassador pic.twitter.com/GpLZZIQSot
— FarmSol Youth Ambassador (@FARMSOL_YA) December 29, 2020
Tumelo Olifant from Taung, North West
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.
Refilwe Coetzee from Magareng, Northern Cape
The goal is to clear the payment, do the drop off,get the cash, get home and keep myself and my family safe from COVID🙏🏽💯 Excuse me if I keep my interactions limited.I’d rather wake up with the smell of dung then in a hospital bed wishing I could smell🥺🙏🏽 Stay safe❤️ pic.twitter.com/GWW1AVrTSV
— FarmGirl (@Fifi_dvc) December 29, 2020
Ipeleng Kwadi from Brits, North West
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.
Tsholo Monakane from Kimberley, Northern Cape
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
I have to feed the Nation🌽🌽🌽👨🏽🌾🥚🥬🥬🥬🍅🍅🍅🍅🍅 pic.twitter.com/ioLUOxyssd
— Olerile Ole (@OleLekgetho) December 18, 2020
Susan van der Merwe from Groblershoop, Northern Cape
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.
Nkosinathi Makamela from Iditutywa, Eastern Cape
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.
Andile Simelane from Kwa-Nongoma, Kwa-Zulu Natal
I honestly achieved beyond my expectations this year. I decided on #NguniCattle late last year because of VERY limited access to land here at home. Look at where I’m at right now 😌😌 These babies are taken care of by my 79yo grandmother!!! #FemaleFarmers #Mpumalanga pic.twitter.com/qNWGFffiAa
— Andile (@badasssupermom) December 26, 2020
Eugene Simons from Cape Town, Western Cape
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.
Gugulethu Mahlangu from Boksburg, Gauteng
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.
Tsakani Mhlongo from Tzaneen, Limpopo
— ŚwaTsakani Farming (@SwaTsakani) December 28, 2020
Gopane Babedi from Gopane, North West
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
No matter what happened in 2020, but on other side God blessed us with the rain pic.twitter.com/HEWEdiFM8s
— Thapz Kalahari (@Thapelo_kgopz) December 29, 2020