A FRESH TAKE ON FARMING: FARMER, IPELENG KWADI GROWS HER AGRI-EMPIRE
Meet Ipeleng Kwadi, a young, farmer from the North West Province who is building her own agri-empire, making waves in the traditionally male-dominated agricultural community.
The Insider SA visits Brits in the North West Province to find Ipeleng Kwadi – a 28-year-old woman making waves in agriculture. Ipeleng is the owner and CEO of her very own Motsobella Farming Enterprise where she breeds pigs, goats, and a few chickens.
Ipeleng developed a passion for farming through her adoptive parents, Moleko and Ntshese Rannona, who involved her in the operations of their family farm, Motse-Motala. The Motse-Motala Farm is 75 hectares and farms Bonsmara cattle and chickens, along with running an agritourism business utilising the on-site camping site and dam for fishing.
Ipeleng began learning the ropes of farming through her adoptive brother, Katlego Rannona, who started training Ipeleng by letting her feed the cows on weekends. As the manager of the family farm, Katlego always knew Ipeleng had great potential and invested time building up her confidence.
“Ipeleng has always had a love for animals. She’s a go-getter, she works very hard, and when she comes into a room, everyone can feel her presence,” Katlego shares. To this day, he continues to guide and support her.
In September 2019, Ipeleng decided to take a leap of faith and launched her own agricultural business: Motsobella Farming Enterprise, which started with just nine pigs and sixteen goats.
“I decided to branch out on my own because I wanted to be independent. I didn’t want people measuring my success purely as my family’s successes,” Ipeleng explains.
However, starting a breeding farm by yourself doesn’t come without its own obstacles. “On a new patch of land like this, there are a lot of challenges,” explains Ipeleng.
“The first is building a fence so that your animals can be protected and so that you don’t have to fight with your neighbours. Another challenge is accessing the water rights.”
Ipeleng also had the task of dividing and building structures for the various animals she sells on the market.
Ipeleng is fortunate to have the assistance and guidance of a close network of young, black farmers in the area, including Thabang Tsholo who specialises in pig farming.
With years of experience in the industry, Thabang has taken the lessons he’s learnt from running his own piggery and shared them with Ipeleng to set her up on the path to success. He shares, “I’ve made my own share of mistakes and I don’t want my friends to have the same challenges that I had or fall into the same traps I did.”
Another close friend is Tlotlo Sepeng, who specialises in farming herbs. Tlotlo shares her pride in Ipeleng, saying, “I’m inspired by her achievements. She’s like me: a young, black woman. Just seeing what she’s been able to achieve with the little time she’s been active in the agricultural sector inspires me to push harder and not give up.”
When these friends get together for a celebration, everyone brings something special to the table. The feast amongst Ipeleng and her farming friends wouldn’t be complete without some local wine produced by friend and winemaker, Lata Ngoasheng.
Lata explains, “It’s very rare to find young, black people in the wine space. Supporting each other in these spaces is very important, our challenges are different, but yet the same.”
In sharing their experiences, challenges and triumphs, these friends learn and lean on one another. Lata adds, “It’s a very small space and doesn’t have many of us playing in it. The more we get together, the more we share ideas, grow, and help other emerging farmers enter into the space.”
Exciting and passionate young farmers like Ipeleng and her peers shine a bright light on the future of the agricultural industry.