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Cattle farmer Ipeleng Kwadi has deep passion

Ipeleng Kwadi is a farmer in a male-dominated industry. Picture: Supplied

Ipeleng Kwadi is a farmer in a male-dominated industry. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 12, 2022


Being a woman in the male-dominated farming industry has taught Ipeleng Kwadi, 30, to grow muscle and remain tough now matter how difficult things may become.

Despite stressing about climate change, funding and livestock theft, the Brits-born cattle farmer has remained relentless in her quest to become one of the most successful farmers in South Africa.

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She is inspired every morning when she sees the big-branded trucks owned by women farmers leave Brits to deliver tons of produce to the Tshwane Market and neighbouring countries.

“I will never do anything apart from farming. I’m here to stay, to develop and mentor others.”

Kwadi has already made a name for herself at a young age. She has a mentorship programme with the Office of the Premier in the North West and National Youth Development Agency Tshwane office.

She will be hosting agriculture students from the US in March on a tour to observe emerging African farmers.

Ipeleng Kwadi

She operates a family farm, Motsemotala Co-oporative Farming, but has also leased another farm, Motshotelo Farm, which focuses more on horticulture.

Kwadi, a resident of Rooihuiskraal, in Centurion, said her future looked brighter in Limpopo.

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Her plan for next year is to expand more investments in that province and travel between Pretoria and Polokwane.

Coming from a small village called Rabokala, where her family was involved in cattle farming, she went to North West University to obtain her Bachelor of Education.

She also enrolled for short courses in agriculture, in particular animal science, plants production, processing and farm management, because she knew she had a passion for farming.

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She thought it was wise to get the education to assist her to operate effectively in the agriculture business. However, she still regrets not studying veterinary science.

“If I could turn back time I would register for veterinary with University of Pretoria because in animal production, animal health is a priority.”

Kwadi believes it is time for women farmers from all walks of life to venture into farming and make their mark.

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She conceded that it was a tough industry that required commitment and patience, but that on her journey she had met supportive men who had a positive mindset and offered her mentorship when she needed it.

“The journey hasn’t been easy due to some challenges in the industry. Farming is a very risky business. Some factors that affect our business are climate change and livestock theft.

“However, it is good to be in the farming industry because it is a basic need of our continent.

“We need to secure food to help fight hunger. Youth need to invest more time in joining the stream of food production and develop our skills to bring more knowledge on smart farming.”

“We have water crises in the country so it’s upon us, with the support of the government, to have infrastructure that will save water.”

She said there was a point when she wanted to quit because of production loss and lack of funds. She had to quit pig farming in 2021 because of the high cost of animal feed during Covid-19.

She also ended up in partnership with people who did not understand farming. That experience taught her a lot about record keeping and being selective in partnerships, although she believed it was important to work collectively to create a value chain.

“I will never ever quit; there are a lot of young upcoming farmers from colleges who are looking up to me and who draw strength from my hard work in farming.

“I, too, get support from my neighbour farmers and people like Dr Michael Scholtz at the Agriculture Research Council, who have contributed a lot to me in the form of cattle management development initiatives.”

Kwedi is also into nature conservation. She allows high school pupils to go to her and learn about nature, plants and animals on the farm. She sees that as another way to plough back into the community.

“To women, the gender gap has been closed, the supply chain and the market opportunities are open to everyone. To our youth there’s a huge gap in the international market, research of genetics and plant breeding is upon us to make Africa shine.”

She is available as Ipeleng Kwadi on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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