Agripreneurs are an essential link in helping South Africa address food security and nutrition for its growing population and is a viable career choice for youth, especially in rural communities. A perfect example of this is the youth owned Botalatemong crop farmers, in Bochum, Limpopo, which produces spinach, butternuts, watermelons and tomatoes, amongst other produce, for local stores and markets.
Having received business and financial support from Soutpan Solar Power since 2020, as part of their Enterprise Development programme which helps local youth SMME’s, they have been able to increase production and provide more local jobs.
“We are working towards becoming commercial farmers and hope to grow potato crops, as we are in fact situated in what is known as the ‘potato belt’,” said Botalatemong owner, Marupeng Phillimon Rasekgal, who explained that they are in discussions with the association that serves as a mouthpiece for the country’s potato industry.
Soutpan Solar Power has provided the enterprise with funding to erect fencing for their agricultural land, as well as a solar powered water pump. This pump has significantly reduced their production costs as they were previously needing to use a generator to power the pump, which consumed a lot of fuel.
Botalatemong has been part of a cohort of local youth entities to receive skills training; funding of material and equipment; compliance and registrations; as well as business mentorship. The view of the programme is to adopt a holistic approach to development, which entails the deployment of funding, business mentorship, building of institutional capacity and possible market access, where necessary.
“Youth should be supported and encouraged to seriously consider agriculture as a career, which is one of the reasons why this farming SMME is one of the businesses that we are assisting,” said Harrisinah Theka, Economic Development Specialist for Soutpan Solar Power, who explained that high levels of unemployed youth in the Bochum area, require a formalised approach that includes both immediate and ongoing support, to achieve a sustainable difference.
“Our economic development implementation partner, Afrivillage works to enable strategic decision-makers to reduce social and economic disadvantages,” added Theka.
This youth development programme is aimed at providing entrepreneurs with business management skills through mentorship at different levels depending on their individual stages of entrepreneurial growth. The programme also assesses and identifies critical needs that hinder growth in these businesses.
“The support that I have received from Soutpan Solar Power has made a huge difference in my farming career, most importantly is the mentoring and support from Afrivillage, who are helping to expose my business to new opportunities. I am not yet there, but there has been progress and that on its own motivates me,” concluded Marupeng.