In the report about the Farmer Development Programme (FDP) mention has been made of Limpopo farmers joining the programme. Currently eleven study groups consisting of 427 farmers farming on 750 ha arable land are learning more about maize production.
Mirriam Swaedi is the lady responsible for this area becoming part of the programme. She used to go and visit her relatives in Draaikraal in Mpumalanga and saw the maize that planted by the farmers who were members of Grain SA realised a much higher yield than the other farmers. Two farmers from Sehlakwane visited and then joined the Lydenburg Study Group in Draaikraal. In 2018 they participated on the BA Project (previously known as the Jobs Fund GSA Project) and paid their fee. After seeing the maize that they planted and the yields that they realised during that year, the other farmers in Sehlakwane asked them to call Grain SA so that they too could join. They received some training on the production practices from soil preparation until harvesting.
‘Our main objective when we started to work with them was to help them to produce maize at commercial yields on their 1 ha plot so that they could ensure household food security and then sell the surplus for income generation,’ says Jerry Mthombothi, Grain SA development coordinator in Nelspruit.
Jerry says that after seeing the good work that was being done in Limpopo, Grain SA was identified as the suitable implementing agent for mentorship in the farming areas within Limpopo for producers supported through the BA initiative in the 2019/2020 planting season. Grain SA signed a service level agreement with the Department of Agriculture and Land Administration in Limpopo for the 2019/2020 planting season. During that time the department assisted Grain SA by buying the additional inputs and payment for mentoring work that was done by the two mentors, Agnes Mndawe and Elias Dladla.
A total of 119 farmers with 231 ha participated under the BA project in 2019/2020 planting season and in the 2020/2021 planting season there are 209 farmers with 463 ha.
The smallholder farmers were producing less than 1 t/ha when they began. ‘Currently they are producing on average 3,5 t/ha. There are even some farmers who are producing more than 7 t/ha on those small lands,’ says Jerry.