Empowerment through education
Farmer's Weekly|April 23, 2021
Young Bonsmara farmer Keneilwe Raphesu knew the path to achieving her dreams lay in further training, so she joined a development programme for emerging farmers. She spoke to Siyanda Sishuba about the lessons she has learnt so far.
Siyanda Sishuba

Keneilwe Raphesu (24), director of Mogalemone farm in Holfontein, Gauteng, runs a mixed operation on 405ha. Yellow maize and sugar bean are rotated on 200ha, Smuts finger grass is planted on 5ha, and the rest of the land is used to run 57 cattle and more than 50 pigs. While the farm belongs to her father, Raphesu manages the day-to-day operation.

She grew up in Ga-Mokgopo, Limpopo, and moved with her family to Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, in 2007. In the same year, her father received Mogalemone farm from the then Department of Land Reform and Rural Development and farmed here part-time until he signed a lease agreement in 2013.

FORMAL TRAINING

Raphesu was keen to join her father on the farm but was determined to boost her skills before doing so.

“I learnt a lot from my father, but I wanted to go out there and empower myself to add more value to the farm,” she says.

To this end, she joined the Sernick Emerging Farmer Development Programme in January 2020, completing it in September of the same year. The Sernick Group, in partnership with the Jobs Fund, trains emerging farmers in cattle breeding and equips them with the necessary skills to become profitable commercial cattle farmers.

In Tier 1 of the programme, 660 farmers receive SETA-accredited training, and an opportunity to exchange their old stock with good-quality cattle that fetch higher prices. The minimum requirement is to own at least 40 cattle and land to run them on.

From those 660 farmers, 300 are chosen for Tier 2, where they learn to develop their herds while maintaining a healthy cash flow.

Fifty farmers move on to Tier 3 and are upskilled to viable commercial entities with their own reproductive capacity.

The programme is open to black emerging farmers who run herds within 150km of Kroonstad in the Free State.

FARM DEVELOPMENT

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