Kerotse Rampou from Pheela village in the Moses Kotane Local Municipality says growing vegetables and feeding the nation is what she will forever do. She started planting vegetables on a 1.5ha backyard plot in 2009, and has through her firm interest in farming, managed to put a further 15ha under vegetable production. This after signing a three-year lease agreement with the local Community Property Association (CPA) in 2012, to use these hectares for agricultural production.
As the owner of Motswereng Fruit and Vegetables, Rampou produces cabbage, spinach, onions, beetroot, carrots and lucern, which are under sprinkler irrigation.She is also producing some seedlings as a means of lowering input costs.
With no formal training on agricultural production, Rampou says her interest in vegetable production was sparked by joblessness and poverty levels in her village.
“Vegetables are by no means our everyday necessity, hence the resolve to make this my lifetime employment”, maintains Rampou.
After harvesting, the produce are marketed at the local pension pay-points and at various fresh produce supermarkets in Swartruggens and Zeerust towns. She also supplies vegetables for the local Primary School’s feeding scheme. “Community members are consistently buying vegetables from me for household consumption”, she added.
Having identified the project’s potential for growth, Rampou has been nominated for participation in the 2013 DAFF Female Entrepreneur of the Year Awards to compete in the small-holder producer category.
The MEC for North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Desbo Mohono says young farmers like Rampou have what it takes to shift the youth’s perception about agriculture, as her attitude and approach towards this sector is positive.
“As the country is this month honouring the contribution young people made during the struggle for freedom, we remain optimistic that they will continue to play their part in liberating our rural communities from hunger, poverty and unemployment, and Rampou is but one example”, expressed MEC Mohono.
Rampou says her produce are of good quality as the Department’s Agricultural Extension Officer is regularly advising her on how to apply best production practices like the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
Rampou who has employed three permanent and two seasonal labourers, says she intends to expand her 1.5ha backyard plot by planting butternut and tomatoes, for which the land has already been prepared.