‘Virtuous mother’ dedicates her life to feeding the nation

In episode 6 of the 'Vir die liefde van die land' TV show we meet Mahadi Mopeli (62) who believes that farming touches everybody every day

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Neatly tucked away in the beautiful landscape of the Free State province, lies the small community of Warden. There you will find 62-year-old grain and livestock farmer Mahadi Mopeli dedicating her golden years to working the land that feeds the country.

On her farm called Quarriehoek is where the hosts of the TV show Vir die liefde van die land (For the love of the land) meet Mopeli in this week’s episode.

Hosts Ivor Price, co-founder of Food For Mzansi, and Piet Potgieter, manager for developing agriculture at the VKB Group, celebrates South Africa’s unsung heroes of agriculture through this show. It is in full swing on VIA, DStv channel 147 and is quite unlike any other agricultural programme you’ve seen before.

‘Farming is everything’

In this week’s episode, Mopeli, a member of the royal Bakwena tribe, explores the history of her farming family and tells Price and Potgieter what it feels like being a farmer herself.

“Farming is everything,” she can be heard saying. “What you are wearing and the breakfast you had this morning is all farming, so farming is very important. Farming is life.”

After school, Mopeli trained as a teacher, but never got to work in this profession.

Ben Greyling, friend and mentor.
Mopeli with Ben Greyling, her friend and mentor. Photo: WYRD Films

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She did, however, work as a librarian from 1997 until 2006. In 2004, in the spirit of true entrepreneurship, Mopeli felt moved to try her hand at farming. She farmed with vegetables and a few cattle.

She then let the life of a librarian go and enthusiastically put on her farming boots for good. This is a decision she has not regretted once in her life.

While delving deeper into her farming journey, she shares her experiences on the show about the many times she had to hop from one farm to another. She also recalls her “rough” times of struggling to gain access to inputs and implements. Mopeli states that at one stage she thought that her farming dreams would never materialise.

“But with God’s grace, here I am,” she exclaims.

My mentor is ‘gold’

Viewers also meet Mopeli’s mentor and friend, Ben Greyling, who she also describes as her “father” who is worth gold. Through his guidance and assistance, she became even more passionate about farming.

VKB's executive director of agricultural services, Francois Froneman.
VKB’s executive director of agricultural services, Francois Froneman.

Greyling gained a lot of respect for Mopeli while working with her.

“The way in which she worked with her workers touched me. One day I saw her preparing the best food for them, while they were working her fields. That showed me that she is a virtuous mother and a pillar in her community,” he says.

“What I learned from her is that she is always humble and wants to work together… her past is not the same as mine, but she puts that all behind her and trusts me to work with her and make our area better. ”

Today, Greylings’ younger son, Lindré also mentors Mopeli’s son, Tsolo.

VKB’s Centre for Collaboration and Development

Later in the show VKB’s executive director of agricultural services, Francois Froneman, talks farming partnerships.

“We are currently working on a platform that we are going to create, which we are calling the Centre for Collaboration and Development. That Centre will provide a platform where parties can come together,” he says.

The episode featuring Mopeli airs Thursday, 12 November at 18:00 on VIA, DStv channel 147 with further repeats on Fridays at 00:00 and 06:00 and Sundays at 20:00.

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