Developing emerging farmers: A beacon of success in the Walter Sisulu municipal area

Story: Samkelo Fetile | Photo: Azonwabe Thukani

 In a noteworthy step towards fostering rural development and supporting dedicated emerging farmers, the Eastern Cape’s Department of Agrarian Reformand Rural Development (DRDAR) has extended crucial assistance to two farms, Goedehoop and Driefontein, within the Walter Sisulu municipal area.

On Friday, 10 November 2023, Nonkqubela Peters, the MEC of DRDAR, handed over a brand-new tractor to Dintle Maphalala, a young female farmer in Goedehoop near Maletswai (Aliwal North). Maphalala, already a recipient of previous support from various government departments and entities, has garnered recognition for her unwavering commitment, dedication, and notable success in the agricultural sector.

Expressing her gratitude, Maphalala stated, "This is a crucial asset that will undoubtedly enhance the productivity and efficiency of my farming operations. My hard work caught the attention of the Mohair Empowerment Trust, which has now pledged to build my capacity to become a fully-fledged commercial farmer while I am still young."

A graduate of Boland College with a Diploma in Farming Management in 2016, Maphalala received Goedehoop Farm from her father and resigned from her position as an Assistant Farm Manager with Rainbow in 2017 to focus on building her dream. She has since been awarded numerous accolades, becoming a source of motivation for many and mentoring graduates and younger farmers.

MEC Peters also handed over a multi-million rand infrastructure, including a multipurpose shed, stock handling facilities, fencing, and equipment, at Driefontein Farm near James Calata. Owned by two childhood friends who shared a passion for agriculture from a young age, Driefontein Farm embodies the successful realisation of their childhood dream. "The infrastructure investment aims to create a conducive environment for agricultural development, ensuring that they have the necessary facilities to maximize their agricultural output," stated the MEC.

Both events were attended by the Executive Mayor of Joe GqabiDistrict Municipality, Nomvuyo Mposelwa, Cllr Vania Davids (Mayor of Walter Sisulu Local Municipality), local small-scale farmers, government departments, and representatives from agricultural organisations such as the AfricanFarmers' Association of South Africa (AFASA) and the National African Farmers Union (NAFU).

Recognising Emerging Farmers

Executive Mayor Mposelwa highlighted the paramount importance of food security in the region, commending the hard work of local farmers. She also drew attention to the international success of two sheep shearers who are based in the Northern Cape but are originally from the Joe Gqabi District, who triumphed in a competition in New Zealand. “Such achievements not only contribute to local pride but also showcase the global potential of agricultural endeavours in the Eastern Cape.”

Mr WJ Philips from the National Wool Growers Association expressed appreciation for the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, including the DRDAR, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Joe Gqabi District Municipality, and the Walter Sisulu Local Municipality (WSLM). “With a focus on inclusivity, this initiative demonstrates a concerted effort to address socio-economic challenges.”

Encouragement from the local Mayor

Cllr Vania Davids echoed the sentiment of encouragement, especially directed towards the youth. She urged young individuals to draw inspiration from Maphalala's success story, emphasizing the potential for growth and success within the agriculture sector. She also extended her gratitude to all stakeholders for their unwavering support, highlighting the collaborative spirit essential for the sustainable development of the region.

“The recent developments in the Walter Sisulu municipal area reflect a commitment to empowering local farmers, fostering agricultural growth, and making strides towards food security. Through strategic investments, recognition of hard work, and collaboration between government bodies and local communities, the region is poised to become a beacon of success in the agricultural landscape. The story of Maphalala and the ongoing initiatives underscore the potential for transformative change, offering hope and inspiration for aspiring farmers across the Eastern Cape and South Africa,” she said.