The Corner Post
Aukrainian pastor, Sunday Adelaja, believes that your passion and calling is whatever motivates you more than money. To Mirriam Swaedi (48) from Sehlakwane in the Stoffberg area, being a farmer is not just a means to provide for her family. ‘I actually became a farmer when I was a child because my parents were farmers and ignited the passion for farming within me. It is my calling.’
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Mirriam’s path crossed with that of Jerry Mthombothi, regional development manager at the Mbombela office, in 2013 when she joined Grain SA. Jerry became her mentor who guided her to become a better farmer by applying better agricultural practices. ‘Grain SA has helped me a lot. I have learned a lot about farming and my harvest is much higher than before,’ she says.
No task is too big or too small for Mirriam. She has one goal – to become a successful commercial grain producer in South Africa and she is doing everything possible to realise this dream.
Jerry says that Mirriam is an energetic, hands-on farmer who is a workaholic. ‘She leads by example and will always be the first one to perform any task. She is a good listener who is always ready to learn. She follows advice and is keen to apply correct production practices,’ Jerry says about his mentee.
He believes that the following practices have contributed to her success:
- Ripping the field before planting.
- Doing soil corrections by applying lime.
- Planting maize and dry bean varieties that are suitable to her area.
- Planting in the planting window.
- Planting correct plant populations.
- Spraying both pre and post emergence herbicides, insecticide and fungicides especially on the dry beans.
- Applying the advised amount of fertiliser.
- Following all the production practices as she has been advised.
OBSTACLE CAN BE OVERCOME
When you follow your passion and really enjoy what you do, nothing will stop you from getting your work done. This is the way to achieve your goals, says Mirriam who has not allowed obstacles from detracting her attention from her focus. She trusts that finances and climate challenges will not be stumbling blocks in her road to reaching her dream of being a landowner.
Although she does not own a farm yet, Mirriam dreams of owning her own piece of land one day. ‘I love being a farmer. Farming is not just a business for me. It is my calling.’ Currently she cultivates 6 ha on communal land in the Zaaiplaas Village in Sehlakoane near Stoffberg in Mpumalanga. Here she plants maize and dry beans.
After meeting Jerry and joining Grain SA she realised very quickly that better agricultural practices mean a higher yield. She was amazed at the difference healthy soil made to her harvest. ‘I never knew about taking soil samples so that I could repair my soil and get it ready for planting. Now that I know how to prepare the soil, my yield has improved,’ she shares. Last season she realised 6 t/ha and she hopes to reach an even higher yield this season. ‘I realise my land was not 100% clean last season. To achieve an even better yield, a clean field and healthy soil is important,’ she says.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
This study group leader is so passionate about farming that she is making sure others learn the importance of correct agricultural practices so that they can have higher yields and improve their living conditions. Mirriam loves guiding hopeful emerging farmers and giving them advice on improving their cultivation methods. She is always willing to share her knowledge with other farmers, whether it is at a study group meeting or in the village. She knows that improving the skills of rural farmers is crucial to ensuring food security in the country.
She is the lady who set the ball rolling for Limpopo becoming part of the Farmer Development Programme. Limpopo now has eleven study groups consisting of 427 farmers farming on 750 ha arable land who are learning more about best agricultural practices for maize production. She also helps farmers in Limpopo who want to join Grain SA.
Mirriam is proof that success does not come easy even if you are passionate about what you are doing. It is hard work, perseverance, learning and sacrifice to reach your goal.
Although money is great and can buy us all the things that will temporarily make us happy, no amount of money can buy time. Time is our most valuable asset and it is something that, while on this earth, we should spend most wisely. You shouldn’t feel like you’re mindlessly wasting your life away.
Publication: April 2022