BSc in Agriculture graduate, 25-year-old Mr Nhlakanipho Motaung, has flourished since joining the Umngeni Resilience Project (URP) in April 2019.
The project is a partnership between the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, uMgungundlovu District Municipality and UKZN’s Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems.
A small-scale farmer with a 3.2 hectares’ farm in KwaSwayimane, his passion for agriculture started when he cultivated sweet potatoes and maize with his mother while growing up.
The URP supports him with seeds and also provides technical assistance and opportunities to network with different stakeholders. Motaung said that working with the project has enabled him to grow personally and professionally. ‘It has been a wonderful experience to work with URP,’ he said, adding that all aspects of his farming business are growing smoothly, from production, to harvesting, marketing and branding.
Potatoes were his first crop and he has now expanded to amadumbe (Taro), sweet potatoes, dry beans, and maize. As farming is his only source of income, Motaung said that he secures his market before planting his crops as the most common mistake farmers make is to plant without knowing where they are going to sell their harvest. He is working with others farmers to identify new market opportunities, including informal markets. He wryly admits that financial affairs and paperwork are the tasks he finds most challenging, but he is working on improving his skills in these areas.
Words: Ms Nhlonipho Mbatha, Dr Vimbayi Chimonyo, Ms Xola Nqabeni, Ms Khethiwe Mthethwa and Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi (URP team members)