NEWS
05/04/2018 17:49 SAST | Updated 05/04/2018 17:50 SAST

Edwin Mabotsa Never Studied Agriculture, Now He Supplies 8400 Cucumbers A Week

He is one of the few people in Windsorton in the Northern Cape who has managed to be a successful farmer.

Zane Llewellyn / EyeEm via Getty Images

Edwin Mabotsa is a farmer in the small mining town of Windsorton in the Northern Cape and he believes that farming can be used to uplift the community.

Mabotsa says when he started farming in the area it was still a taboo and many believed the only way to make money was through working at the mines.

"My community, where I grew up in Windsorton is predominantly a mining area, mining was the heartbeat and then I realised that we need to focus on other things especially agriculture, given the availability of land in my area, [and] the availability of water," he said.

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Even his family was not keen on the idea of him starting a cooperative.

"They were not supporting the idea that much because they felt that you once you finish school, you must go and look for work, because starting an enterprise is not an easy".

The mine eventually closed down leaving many of the locals unemployed.

"The miners were not investing back into the community and then the mining was fading away. Even now, there are no mining activities in Windsorton and it is a problem because young people are unemployed and moved out of the area ... Agriculture is the way out for us in Windsorton," he said.

Since those early days Mabotsa has built a successful cucumber farm and has been supplying Shoprite almost 8400 cucumbers a week, for the past decade. Now that he is successful he has dreams of expanding his enterprise, and says he is ready when the opportunity comes.

"Hopefully, I will be owning the land come August this year, it has been quite a difficult battle to get the land."

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In 1999 he made presentations to various government departments including the municipality and they struck a deal that they would give him land if he excels at farming.

"They gave us something in writing that said if the programme is a success they will donate the land to us and then based on that they kept their promise ... There are still processes going on ... when those are done then the land will be in the name of the enterprise."

Tshwaraganang Hydroponics cooperative employs 14 workers, 10 are permanent and the rest are casual workers.

Mabotsa received assistance from the Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) a value chain development organisation, which was established to enhance growth in the African indigenous plant products and to build capacity along the supply chain to boost productivity to reduce poverty and hunger.

"I did not study agriculture. Before the programme started a visibility study was conducted about whether something like this can work in our area and then a mentor was appointed from ASNAPP," Mabotsa said.

"This particular farm is putting our area on the map."

Now the father of two feels like he has beaten the odds.

"The rewarding part is when people did not believe that this could happen in an area like this, Windsorton. Nothing is happening of great significance, but at least this particular farm is putting our area on the map," he added.

When asked what he thinks about land expropriation he pauses, saying, he hopes that if the land is expropriated, it must be given to individuals who are passionate about farming.

"When land is given to black people we must make sure that the land works. It does not help, you give the land to the people and the land is not being used."

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