The quality of your produce has the potential to market itself and even open markets. This is the view of Leshalagae Mojapelo, a farmer and soil science graduate from Ga-Maboi village in Limpopo.
Situated about 50 km outside Polokwane, Mojapelo is adamant that the packaging and quality of any farmer’s fresh produce is directly linked to their success. It has to be marketable, unique and attractive, he says.
Above all, farmers should understand that overnight success is nearly impossible, especially in rural areas where access to land and running water is difficult.
“Everyone who wants to venture into farming must do it for the love of it,” says Mojapelo, who farms with butternuts and watermelons.
“Farming is a slow process. It is about passion, patience and determination.”
Like many other up-and-coming farmers, the owner of BK Agric Traders realises that he needs a financial injection to grow his business.
“I believe that in most businesses, if not all, the main challenge they encounter its finance. For my enterprise, the idea has been there since after my graduation in 2013. The only challenge was kickstarting it.”
Growing the agribusiness
Through careful planning and loads of patience, Mojapelo was able to open the doors to his own agricultural enterprise six years after getting his BSc degree. “We started to clear up the land, but due to financial difficulties we couldn’t finish. As the years went by, we managed and that is where we are today.”
He was able to grow BK Agric Traders through a phased approach, carefully linked to budget availability and timelines.
“Being unemployed at that time, determination and family support, which involved technical, social and financial [support], kept me moving. Achieving each phase gave us the courage to keep on moving.”
Farming in a rural area is not easy, but Mojapelo strives to let his quality produce to the talking.
“Most farms are within village life space. The goal of this business is to commercialise it. We go out there and look for people to supply [to] and we get them. We still avail our produce to local members. However, it needs to [meet] quality standards to be able to access great markets.”
Although Mojapelo does not currently have full-time employees, he employs four seasonal workers to help with planting, weeding and harvesting. His dream is to employ as many people as he can afford to.
“The main goal is to maintain consistency to see the company’s produce out there competing with the best. The company wants to sustain production of its produce and maintain a certain quality level and become reliable suppliers,” he says.
The biggest ideal is to lay a solid foundation that can, eventually, benefit Limpopo youth.
“I want to see the business expanding and producing more quantity and variety of produce that can be packaged on the farm. Later we will look at processing [too].”
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