Sudáfrica: First batch of smallholder farmers successful completes hands on training on potato production
In a quest to empower subsistence and smallholder farmers in the Province, the North-West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (NWDARD) has recently trained a group of farmers on potato production.
The initiative is part of the NWDARD’s Food Security Strategic Plan (FSSP) of enhancing production through alignment with technologies and enhancing enterprise development for smallholder farmers. The training was provided by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the department availed resources such as potato seeds, fertilizers and chemicals.
Potato production is one of the most expensive enterprises within the agricultural sector of South Africa with less than 1% of total production done by black farmers.
Speaking during the provincial potato harvest day function held in Ramatlabama last Wednesday 15 June 2022, MEC Mohono commended all the nine farmers for completing their training.
She further went on to say that the Department embarked on this initiative with the ARC with the aim of skilling the potential entrants to the potato industry. “It is researched that less than 1% of total production is done by black farmers due to high costs within the potato industry. So the Department took these nine farmers to help them unlock the potato industry and shake the status-qou a bit. As a department we are neither compromising nor taking chances when coming to food security measures throughout the entire province. “The high inputs costs should not deter our farmers to forge ahead because once in, rewards are much greater at the ultimate,” MEC Mohono expressed.
The training for these nine farmers consisted of theoretical and practical aspects.
The potato industry’s impact is not only of interest to the agricultural compass but overlaps to contribute towards the sustenance of life itself. It pushes towards contributing to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.”
Mosidi Morule of Ramatlabama is one of the beneficiaries of this programme. On behalf of all nine trained farmers, she thanked the Department and their mentors Dr Lerato Matsaunyane and Flip Steyn from the ARC. “We are grateful and appreciate what the department and the ARC has done for us. It was not an easy one but here we are today. We managed!” she expressed.
She went further to say they will use the knowledge they acquired from this training to mentor others.
From ARC, Dr Lerato Matsaunyane thanked the Department for coming up with such a good initiative that will not only see farmers being trained but will also contribute in making sure that there is enough food production and job opportunities that will be created if sustained.
The potato subsector has a potential to create sustainable employment opportunities for everyone along the value chain.
This programme aims to serve as a model to increase potato production in the North-West Province.
By empowering these farmers through relevant programmes, they could adopt a commercial mind-set which can unlock a powerhouse of rural development and food security in the province.
Plans are in place to support those that have just been trained and to train more in the future.