The Mopani Farmers Association in collaboration with the Water Research Commission, the International Water Management Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development hosted an expo for farmers to showcase their produce from 28 February to 2 March 2023 in Giyani, Limpopo. Chief Divila Mabunda from the Dzumeri tribal authority was among the dignitaries.
Given that Giyani is a water scarce area, water saving methods and techniques were also presented to farmers as part of the programme. “It is the second time I visit Giyani – an area characterised by the fertile soil but a lack of water” said the CEO Water Research Commission, Dr Jennifer Molwantwa. Given how small scale farmers have been badly impacted by climate change, resilience is key, especially when it comes to managing limited water.
At the expo, farmers were encouraged to start a Farmers Forum to enable better information sharing such as what the different types of crops cooperatives are planting to help ensure diversity of crops in the same area. A Farmers Forum could also help to facilitate the pricing of crops, transportation of crops and share general complaints as a way to improve service to customers.
Farmers were encouraged to download the CSIR APP which can help determine the soil type, what type of crops can be planted and weather forecasts. Farmers who wish to download the CSIR APP, can visit https://www.csir.co.za/
Dr Magombeyi from the International Water Management Institute encouraged farmers to be part of climate change mitigation measures (measures which help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) like switching to renewable energy sources such as solar panels, but farmers were concerned about the costs. Dr Magombeyi then explained that if cooperatives work together and purchase solar panels, they could perhaps sell surplus power from the grid to other farmers costing less than that of electricity or a generator.
Mopani Farmers Association’s Rhulani Zitha shares a water saving tip for watering seedlings:
- Fill a small sack with sawdust, soil and manure.
- Place the seed of your choice in the sack.
- Make holes in the sides and at the top of the sack.
- Place the sack vertically in the soil.
- When you water the sack through the top holes, it will have the benefit of flowing through the holes on the sides of the sack to water other seeds/crops
- Using this technique not only helps with water saving, but also pest control.