The culture of farming in the rural area of Hartswater in Northern Cape motivated and inspired Kedibonye Kaweng to venture into livestock farming. When she bought her first cows in 2013, she never thought that she will be where she is today, however, her perseverance to succeed paid off.
Kaweng grew up in a farming family, who farmed with both crops and livestock. She says her inspiration comes from her grandparents, who used to put food on the table because of farming and that is what motivated her to try it.
Starting off with four cows that she bought from her grandfather, Kaweng now has 120 cows, and she has also ventured into crop farming.
A rocky start
“I started in Hartswater, and between the years 2013 – 2017 I had about 60 cows which I was farming with. However, the land that I had was not ideal for grazing. Also, my livestock would go to drink water in the canal and end up falling into the canal, which was a challenge for us,” she shares her troublesome journey.
“In 2019 I acquired state land which came with water rights, through the department of agriculture and land reform. It is 2100 hectares of land in Barkly West in the Northern Cape. This opportunity came in handy because from there I started growing because the land is fertile.”
Not only does Kaweng farm with cattle, but also sheep, Boer goats and crops like lucerne and pecan nuts.
“I have reserved six hectares to do crop farming. My intention is to get into maize meal and sunflowers in the next three years, because as a farmer you need to get have enough products to be sustainable because life is unpredictable,” she says.
Importance of support and collaboration
In 2020 she got the shock of her life with veld fires ravaging her farm, but through proactive response she and her workers managed to relocate the cattle without any harm to them.
“How we survived is still a big question we have, but this shows that when you work with other people such as neighbouring farmers, you can go a long way.”
She also decided to joined Saamtrek Saamwerk, an agricultural organisation, which she says helps her navigate the agricultural landscape.
“I joined Saamtrek Saamwerk so that I can associate with other farmers. I think it’s very important because it is in such organisations that we learn from one another on how best to tackle issues like foot-and-mouth disease, and advise one another,” she explains.
Kaweng says her core support is her husband and farming partner, Issac Kaweng, who has stood by her side through thick and thin.
“My husband and my three boys are my pillar of strength – through ups and downs they are there for me. My husband and I have invested all we have in this business, and we want to see great returns. We have sacrificed and put our family on the line for this business to grow.”
Her six employees have also added to her support structure as some of them have been with her from the start.
“It is amazing how dedicated and caring these workers have been with me, I appreciate them for the work they do, they have been there from day one and I am happy with them.”
What keeps her going
Kaweng prefers to sell at auctions and abattoirs, she explains, and her bestselling times are November/December and May/June.
She believes in collaboration and stakeholder engagement for all farmers to be exposed to information and learn from one another.
“I think our government has done great things for us. The extension officers do come and engage with us, however, I would like to see our government being more proactive than reactive.
“For instance, when they are helping with fertilisers or seedlings, those things need to come on time so that farmers do not harvest late. I think we appreciate the help, but it also needs to come on time that is very important.”
Although she has been successful and has built herself up from the bottom, she’s not done yet because she still wants to acquire more on her farming journey.
Her motto is that any person needs to create their own success by their own hands, and make a difference in the society.
“I believe that the appetite for success will make you go all the way. My advice will be that you do not celebrate early, keep your profits until the returns are big enough. You cannot sell two cattle and start thinking of buying luxury things – give yourself time, that is important,” she advises.
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