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Young farmers plant seed for unique stokvel

Covid disrupted momentum but Makawana ploughs on

Passionate young farmers who are members of the Makawana Farmers Stokvel
Passionate young farmers who are members of the Makawana Farmers Stokvel

Makawana Farmers Stokvel was formed in 2017 as a platform for young farmers to support one another. The stokvel, based in Kuruman, Northern Cape, initially served to address the dire after-effects of the drought which the province experienced in 2016.

While the province is the largest in the country in terms of land mass, it is mostly dry and there are plenty of different challenges which farmers face.

In order to make some of these challenges more bearable, members of Makawana Farmers Stokvel decided to come together and harness the power of unity.

“It was just a group of young farmers and wannabe farmers who wanted to help each other, firstly through advice. Then the idea of the stokvel came because most of us are having trouble with finances,” said Tshepo Ntshe, the stokvel’s secretary.

Today, the group of 12 farmers is able to assist and empower each other to navigate the different challenges they face in the agricultural sector. The stokvel members contribute R1,000 monthly.

At the end of each year, the money is either shared equally among them or used to buy animal feed and other agricultural products that serve towards the development of the farmers’ respective agricultural projects.

Members meet on a monthly basis to educate and empower one another
Members meet on a monthly basis to educate and empower one another

During the year, members are also able to use some of the money to address urgent challenges which may arise in their farming activities.

“If a member needs some funding, they can just write a letter to the executive. The executive will look through the letter and give us (the rest of the members) a summary. Then we see how we can assist through the money we have in our account,” said Ntshe.

Although the stokvel has offered commendable assistance in terms of financial support, Ntshe also attests to the fact that members have been able to benefit in other priceless ways.  

Through educational programmes, dialogues and mentorship, members have been able to share agricultural and entrepreneurial tips and guidance, thus resulting in plenty of growth and empowerment taking place.

“We get advice from those who have been in the industry earlier. Every now and then, as a group, we ask for an organisation to present for us and we get to learn from them. That also helps a lot of us who are still trying to find their feet in the industry.”

Since its inception, the stokvel has seen quite a number of successes. These include seeing upcoming farmers being empowered and able to get back on their feet after financial challenges which could have potentially cut their agricultural projects short.

“Most of us are beginners, so even a little amount of R2,000 or R3,000 can set you back big time. With our stokvel, we managed to overcome that trouble,” expressed Ntshe.

Additionally, in 2019 the stokvel hosted a Farmers Day, during which farmers as far as Namibia got together to exchange ideas and learn new tricks. “The Farmers Day was initially supposed to be an annual thing. We were meant to travel across the country and the continent to learn, but then Covid happened and everything had to stop,” said Ntshe.

The stokvel’s secretary also admitted that the pandemic presented some of the toughest challenges which they have had to face since the formation of Makawana, a Tswana word which means "young lads".

As a result of the pandemic, some members were unfortunately no longer able to be part of the stokvel. “Many could not keep up with the stokvel and their other commitments. Everything was affected,” said the stokvel’s secretary.

As the stokvel continues to grow and recover from the effects of the pandemic, their aim going forward is to work hard on the aspect of mentorship.

According to Ntshe, this will ensure that young people are guided to start and maintain their own stokvels of a similar nature.

Members also intend to venture into farming collectively and owning livestock as property of the stokvel.

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