BBL PARTICIPANT: Joel Mokone, Lusaka, Limpopo Province

In a Nutshell

Through his participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Joel Mokone has created an abundant food garden. He has used profits from selling surplus to invest in heritage chickens, and is planning a poultry breeding business. His granddaughter is watching and learning by his side.

He says…

Joel Mokone

I have been gardening since I was a child (both at home and at primary school), but it was listening to Kwena from SocioTech that transformed my skills. That’s why I always say that he taught me everything. His instruction made a big difference.

The SocioTech way is not suitable for everyone. Some people hear about the SocioTech method of digging those deep trenches and collecting up all those tins and bones and they get disheartened. They say that it takes too long and that it is not worth the effort. It does take time to start off those trenches, but they are wrong to say that the effort is not worthwhile. I tell those people that I began with 3 trench beds, and now I have 12. That is how good they are. And I am in the process of digging another one.

I will never go back to the old ways. The proof of how good the SocioTech methods are can be seen in the quality of the crops. Vegetables that come out of my garden now are so big and so delicious. My spinach is a beautiful bright green. It is much tastier than anything you can buy at the shops. I think that it is partly to do with the quality of the soil, but it is also about the absence of pesticides and fertilizer. Everything you see in my garden is natural. There are no chemicals. I only use manure and some mulch made from grass and paper. I don’t need anything else because my soil was properly prepared at the start. It is full of nutrients. I seldom get pests but when I do, all I need is a chili and sunlight mixture or an aloe tea to get rid of them.

Everyone in my family loves my vegetables. Even the youngest member of my household, my one-year-old granddaughter Valencia loves the potatoes and pumpkins and carrots that I grow. In this house we don’t buy vegetables anymore. All our needs can be met through our own hard work. And the surplus I sell. So, my garden not only saves me the cost of buying vegetables, but it also earns me money through selling. I am hoping to expand the business side of farming this year. Life is not easy, especially these days, and there are always expenses that need to be paid, so a man needs to develop multiple sources of income in order to survive.

"Watch, learn and grow into a person with knowledge and skills."


One of my business plans going forward has to do with traditional chickens. I recently did the BBL MyPoultry training, and I have 20 beautiful traditional chickens. The kind of chicken that people had in the old days and that they still prefer. I plan to breed with them, but I am not in a hurry. I will build up a good, healthy flock and probably only start selling them in about 6 months’ time. When I do, I expect there to be a high demand for those birds. The taste of traditional chickens is so much better than the ones you get in supermarkets. The bones are stronger, and the flavours are much meatier. My hope is that over time the birds can become a good source of income.

Sometimes when I am in the garden or feeding the chickens, baby Valencia comes following after me. I like that. She doesn’t actually garden yet because she is still very young, but I feel like she is watching and learning and appreciating it all. I think it is good for children to know where their food comes from. I think it is important for them to know that someone worked hard to bring it to their plates. Especially if that someone is grandpa. She can have family pride in that. Maybe next year she will be old enough to have a little patch of earth and a few seeds to grow for herself. For now, she follows after me, and then sits there in the shade watching while I work. When I see her doing that, I remember myself as a child, because that is just the way that I did it with my father and grandfather. Watch, learn and grow into a person with knowledge and skills. It’s the age-old cycle of life.

Joel Mokone
Joel Mokone