BBL PARTICIPANT: Linda Mvelase, Khutsong, North West
In a Nutshell
Having taken on board positive experiences from his participation in several elements of SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Linda Mvelase is upping his game on his current income activities.
Linda is also saving up to implement his further planned business initiatives to build a future for him and his young family.
My mother says that I remind her of my late dad. He passed away when I was doing grade 8 but he was passionate about farming (especially crop farming) and I have that too. When I was a small boy I used to go with him into the fields and I know that I learnt many life lessons in our time together. I learnt about the importance of consistency.
I learnt that, even when you don’t see the results, it is important to just keep going and never give up. Farming takes patience. What you do now will only show results later. Plants communicate like God. You can ask today and it feels like you receive no answer but an answer always comes. Answers come when you aren’t expecting them and sometimes the form that the answer takes may surprise you, but answers do come.
My father was a welder and that made him sick. His lungs were damaged by his work and in 2008 we lost him. It was awful. He knew he was dying and that we were too young to look after his chickens. When he knew the end was coming, every week he would say ‘hey, slaughter that chicken’. Before he died we ate all the chickens.
"I connected with myself and I connected with my God."
After my father passed and for several years after his death I lost my way. I had anger and depression and I drank too much. It was not a good time for me. I didn’t continue with my father’s farming activities. In that time someone else took over his land. When my son was born, I knew I had to change. I needed to be a better man so that I could be what my baby needed me to be. So, I went to my father’s grave and I connected with him and with my ancestors. Through that process, I connected with myself and I connected with my God.
I came to understand that my purpose is to plant. I am a farmer. My father was a farmer. I was named after my grandfather Linda who farmed on the Blybank. I never met that Grandfather Linda (and after he passed away in 1962 the government took his fields and the family left agriculture) but I know that his faith in farming lives on within me. Family is in farming. God is in farming and I am a strong believer.
So, I went to claim back my father’s land and while I couldn’t get that exact same plot, the municipality allocated me another piece of land. Since I came back to the land, things have gone better. It isn’t easy. In fact, it is very hard work but all the time I see signs that God is with me.
For instance, one day I was working my land by hand. I was alone and taking strain in the hot sun. Then an elderly man approached me. He was interested in why such a young person was farming. In my community it is usually only older people who farm. I told him my story and he realized that he had been a friend of my father. He said that he would plough my field with his tractor. He didn’t charge me at all for all that work. I really knew God was on my side that day.
Another example of God being on my side came to me through chickens. I wanted to get into the chicken business but I didn’t have money but then late last year a friend of mine moved into a place where there was no space for livestock so he gave me his chickens.
I am not saying everything comes easy to me. Just as my chicken business was taking off someone came and stole my best breeding bird. Whoever did it, knew what they were doing. They knew that was my best bird. That broke my heart but I prayed on it and I was given another gift from God. The other chickens stepped up and are being fruitful.
Because of my experience with my father, I did know something about farming but my relationship with SocioTech has increased my skills and my yields a lot. I have had a tunnel from SocioTech since the middle of last year and it has made a big difference. Learning about making deep trenches and soil improvement has brought a bounty that I never saw before. My tunnel is currently installed at my mother’s house. We each have a tunnel and the produce is beautiful. The beans we have grown are so green and lush. The tomatoes taste so good. Our spinach is praised by everyone. We sell door to door and at the market and things are going well. My young son also grows a few beans there and we are happy as a family.
My family have been very good to us but it is time for us to live an independent life. I have been planning out the next few years to see how we can make that happen. I keep records of all my sales and study them regularly.
I am making a plan to move forward. By the end of 2022, I would like us to be on the plot. I have done the calculations and with my market sales and the R350 from the government I think I will be able to save the money to fence off the area. Even if we live in a shack at first, it will be wonderful to just wake up and be there on the farm. If we can do that, I believe that nothing can stop me. By next year I want to pass my driving test and fix up my dad’s old car. I want to save to take out lobola.
By 2024, I want to have upped my production significantly. I have been looking at the different prices per ton for different crops. There are big profits in sunflower seeds, so maybe that is the way to go. The only problem is that a sunflower field is a bird paradise…
So, that is my plan. I want to get married, live on my farm, learn and grow. I know that my dad approves of my plan. I can feel his presence and I know that he is proud of me. He is like a silver back gorilla hitting his chest.