Championing Agroecology in Limpopo

The Mopani Farmers Association Agroecology Hub in Limpopo provides agroecology training, for more than 100 young people every year. Xitshembiso Mabunda, a farmer and qualified agroecologist, oversees the hub and the training.

Training topics include land preparation, seed saving, maintenance, weeding, mulching, irrigation, compost making, packaging and marketing amongst other topics.   The key premise of the hub is to show in practice the benefits of shifting from the industrial farming methods, which is heavily reliant on chemicals such as pesticides. Many of these synthetic pesticides are dangerous and have a damaging effect on people’s health and the environment.

The health risks associated with synthetic pesticides include hormone disruption, brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, blood and nerve disorders as well as birth and reproductive effects. Through agroecology, farmers are taught natural alternatives to pesticides like planting herbs such as marigold, assyllum, fenell and coriander to deal with pests instead of resorting to synthetic pesticides.

Farmers who practice agroecology not only produce healthier food, their crops are also better tasting too! “People are able to distinguish, just by the taste alone, the difference between those crops which are grown using agroecology practices and those which have been exposed to chemicals used as part of industrial farming practices,” says Alice Tivani from the Mopani Farmers Association.

Working holistically as a farming collective is an important principle of agroecology. Farmers are also taught about collecting dung and cattle urine which is useful when making liquid manure. Upon harvesting, farmers can also feed their cattle with any unused products.

Central to agroecology is the practice of the seed saving of traditional and indigenous seeds. At the Mopani Farmers Association hub, farmers are taught seed saving practices such as how to dry the seeds, how to use ash to save seeds and how to properly store seeds in a sack or a closed container.

The Mopani Farmers Association views agroecology as an important climate change adaptation measure. The traditional and indigenous ways of black farmers have been and are more in harmony with the environment than current modern day industrial forms of farming.  Africa produces the least amount of the CO2 and other greenhouse emissions, yet Africa is one most vulnerable Continents to the devastation of climate change. This is a grave climate injustice.

Ku lwela Agroecology eLimpopo

Mopani Farmers Association Agroecology Hub e Limpopo yinyika ndzetelo wa agroecology eka kutlula 100 wa vantshwa lembe na lembe. Xitshembiso Mabunda, murimi na agroecologist loyi a faneleke, u langutela hub na ndzetelo.

Tinhlokomhaka ta ndzetelo ti katsa ku lulamisela misava, ku hlayisa mbewu, ku hlayisa, ku byala nhova, ku cheleta, ku endla manyoro, ku paka na ku xavisa exikarhi ka tinhlokomhaka tin’wana. Hub yikombisa mbuyelo wa agroecology tani hi maendlelo ya vurimi kuhambana na maendlelo ya vurimi bya ti indasitiri lawa ya titshegeke ngopfu hi ti khemikhali tofana na swidlaya switsotswana. Votala va swidlaya switsotswana leswi swo endliwa swina khombo naswona swina mbuyelo wo onha eka rihanyo ra vanhu na mbango.

Makhombo ya rihanyo lawa ya fambelanaka na swidlaya switsotswana leswi endliweke ya katsa ku kavanyeteka ka tihomoni, chefu ya byongo na fambiselo ra misiha, khensa, swiphiqo swa ngati na misiha xikan’we na vuyelo bya ku velekiwa na ku veleka. Hiku tirhisa agroecology, van’wamapurasi va dyondzisiwa swin’wana swa ntumbuluko eka swidlaya switsotswana leswingana chefu kufana naku byala swimilani swofana na marigold, assyllum, fenell na coriander kuva va tirhana na switsotswana ematshan’wini yo tirhisa swidlaya switsotswana swa synthetic.

Van’wamapurasi lava endlaka agroecology ava humesi swakudya leswinga na rihanyo ntsena, kambe swibyariwa swa vona na swona swinandzika ku antswa na swona! “Vanhu va kota ku hambanyisa, ntsena hi nantswo ntsena, ku hambana exikarhi ka swibyariwa sweswo leswi byariwaka hiku tirhisa maendlelo ya agroecology na leswinga hlangana na ti khemikhali leti tirhisiwaka tani hi xiphemu xa maendlelo ya vurimi bya ti indasitiri,” ku vula Alice Tivani kusuka eka Mopani Farmers Association.

Van’wamapurasi vatlhela va dyondzisiwa hiku hlengeleta manyoro na nchuluko wa tihomu leswi pfunaka loko ku endliwa manyoro ya mati. Loko va tshoveriwa, van’wamapurasi vanga tlhela va phamela tihomu ta vona hi switirhisiwa swihi na swihi leswinga tirhisiwiki.

Exikarhi ka agroecology i maendlelo yo hlayisa mbewu ya mbewu ya ndzhavuko na ya ndzhavuko. Eka hub ya Mopani Farmers Association, van’wamapurasi va dyondzisiwa maendlelo yo hlayisa mbewu kufana na ndlela yo omisa mbewu, ndlela yo tirhisa nkuma ku hlayisa mbewu xikan’we na ndlela yo hlayisa kahle mbewu eka saka kumbe eka xigwitsirisi lexi pfalekeke.

Nhlangano wa Van’wamapurasi wa Mopani wu languta agroecology tani hi goza ra nkoka ro pfumelelana na ku cinca ka maxelo. Tindlela ta ndzhavuko na ndzhavuko ta van’wamapurasi va vantima tive naswona ti fambisana swinene na mbango kutlula swivumbeko swa sweswi swa manguva lawa swa ti indasitiri ta vurimi. Afrika ri humesa nhlayo yitsongo ya CO2 na ku humesiwa kun’wana ka greenhouse, hambiswiritano Afrika i rin’wana ra Matiko-nkulu lama nga ekhombyeni swinene eka ku onhiwa hi ku cinca ka maxelo. Lexi i ku pfumaleka ka vululami lokukulu ka maxelo.

Strengthening Local Markets

Small-scale farmers, local food producers and artisans showcased their produce and products at the Mowbray Market in Cape Town on Saturday, 4 March 2023. The market was hosted by the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), Rural Women’s Assembly and the Inyanda National Land Rights Movement in an effort to strengthen local food markets. The pilot market took place on 10 December 2022 and the Mowbray Market will now be a monthly feature.

The market featured fresh vegetables, endemic plants and herbs produced from TCOE’s Agroecology Hubs in the Western Cape, amongst other offerings on sale from local producers. The Rural Women’s Assembly members from Suurbrak Aquaponics sold fresh pumpkin, jalapeno, chilli, spinach and brinjals. Fresh Fish was available from members of the Rural Women’s Assembly from Buffelsjagbaai.

Mowbray Mark

Kleinskaalse boere, plaaslike voedselprodusente en ambagslui het op Saterdag, 4 Maart 2023 hul produkte en produkte by die Mowbray-mark in Kaapstad ten toon gestel. Die mark is aangebied deur die Trust for Community Outreach and Education, Rural Women’s Assembly en die Inyanda National Land Rights Movement in ‘n poging om plaaslike voedselmarkte te versterk.

Die mark het onder meer vars groente en kruie geproduseer deur van TCOE se Agroecology Hubs in die Wes-Kaap geproduseer, onder andere te koop aangebied. Die Khoenkhoen Herbs-span van Robertson het inheemse kruie soos wilde als, imphepho, wilde knoffel en boegoewater verkoop. Poppies Homestay van Zoar het haar handelsmerk perske konfyt, groenvye konfyt en hanepoot konfyt verkoop. Die Rural Women’s Assembly van Suurbrak Aquaponics het vars pampoen, jalapeno, brandrissie, spinasie en brinjals verkoop.

Government must respect our right to water

The Chairperson of the Makukhanye Rural Movement, Mziwoxolo Sume, met with Chris Hani resident Mama Cynthia Maqoko, to discuss the ongoing water crisis in the area.

Mama Maqoko is a farmer from Chris Hani in Kariega in the Eastern Cape. Mama Magoko spends a lot of time in her garden. “In my house, we don’t buy vegetables at supermarkets. We eat the vegetables which we grow at home,” she adds.

Her late husband grew up on a farm and taught her how to farm. This is how her love for farming began. “I used to help my husband with the farming. When he died, I realised that I developed a love for farming,” Magoko recalls.

Chris Hani is in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality which has been severely affected by drought and may even experience Day Zero.

Sume: How does the water crisis affect you as a farmer?

Mama Maqoko: As we speak, my vegetables are dry and my plants are struggling. This forces me to travel a long way to get water. It is affecting me very badly.

Sume: What do you think is the cause of the water crisis?

Mama Maqoko: My opinion is that this is a problem created by the leaders of this administration. It is also the result of corruption in the municipality and in national government. Government does not value the people living in this country. At the meeting that was held in July 2022 in Chris Hani, the opinion of the people was that ‘our sin is being Black’. Government does not respect our right to water.

Sume: Has there been any improvements with regards to the water crisis in Chris Hani?

Mama Maqoko: Yes, there was a change in the situation after the Water Crisis Committee intervened. It was a very useful intervention. That is why there are many water trucks. But in December 2022, things started getting bad again. The government and the authorities should solve this water problem as soon as possible. But I don’t have any hope

Urhulumente kufuneka alihloniphe ilungelo lethu lokufumana amanzi

USihlalo weMakukhanye Rural Movement, uMziwoxolo Sume, udibene nomhlali waseChris Hani uMama uCynthia Maqoko, bexoxa ngengxaki yamanzi egqubayo kule ndawo.

Umama uMaqoko ungumfama waseChris Hani eKariega empuma Koloni. Umama uMagoko uchitha ixesha elininzi egadini yakhe. “Endlwini yam, asithengi imifuno kwiivenkile ezinkulu. Sitya imifuno esiyilima ekhaya,” wongeze watsho.

Umyeni wakhe ongasekhoyo wakhulela efama waza wamfundisa ukulima. Le yindlela olwaqala ngalo uthando lwakhe lokufama. UMagoko uthi: “Ndandimane ndincedisa umyeni wam ngokulima.

IChris Hani ikumasipala waseNelson Mandela Bay othe wachaphazeleka ngamandla yimbalela kwaye usenokwehlelwa yiDay Zero.

Sume: Ingxaki yamanzi ikuchaphazela njani wena mlimi?
Mama uMaqoko: Sithetha nje imifuno yam yomile nezityalo zam ziyasokola. Oku kundinyanzela ukuba ndihambe umgama omde ukuya kukha amanzi. Indichaphazela kakubi kakhulu.

Sume: Ucinga ukuba yintoni unobangela wengxaki yamanzi?

Mama uMaqoko: Uluvo lwam kukuba le yingxaki edalwe ziinkokeli zolu lawulo. Ikwasisiphumo sorhwaphilizo kumasipala nakurhulumente kazwelonke. Urhulumente akabaxabisi abantu abahlala kweli lizwe. Kwindibano eyayibanjwe kweyeKhala ngo2022 eChris Hani, uluvo lwabantu lwalusithi ‘isono sethu kukuba siNtsundu’. Urhulumente akalihloneli ilungelo lethu lokufumana amanzi.

Sume:  Ingaba kukho impucuko malunga nengxaki yamanzi eChris Hani?
Mama uMaqoko: Ewe, bekukho utshintsho kwimeko emva kokuba ikomiti ejongene neengxaki zamanzi ingenelele. Yayilungenelelo oluluncedo kakhulu. Yiyo loo nto kukho iilori ezininzi zamanzi. Ngo December ka-2022, izinto zaqala ukuba zambhi kwakhona. Urhulumente nabasemagunyeni mabayisombulule le ngxaki yamanzi ngokukhawuleza. Kodwa andinalo naliphi na ithemba.

Addressing Water Scarcity in the era of Climate Change

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

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.

Reviving and Rebuilding Ilizwi Lamafama

Ilizwi Lama Fama which means “the voice of the farmers” is an organisation founded by local farmers in the Eastern Cape. It has over a hundred members in the Eastern Cape and other provinces such as KwaZulu Natal. The purpose of this organisation is to express farmers, challenges and struggles. The organisation prides itself on practicing agroecology and avoids using GMO seeds that could be harmful to humans and plants.

Members of Ilizwi Lamafama are from different municipalities such as the Raymond Mhlaba, Buffalo City and Amahlathi municipalities. Each municipality has a different kind of challenge when it comes to access to land and water. Each struggle needs a different approach.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown, it became difficult to organise as a movement and members were no longer as active as before the lock down. Ilizwi Lamafama members with support from Lulama Joe Nkopo from the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), Aaron Ranayeke (TCOE), Andile Mapisa (Inyanda National Land Movement) and Comrade Jende (Inyanda National Land Movement) then led a process of reviving the movement during February and March 2023. The objective is to find ways as a collective to rebuild the movement. “This process is part of reviving the Inyanda National Land Movement. The strengthening of local movements and organizations is a way to ensure that there is a solid foundation for Inyanda, because this is where local struggles will take place,” added Ranayeke from TCOE.

One of the critical campaigns which is being planned is the water campaign. “It is very important for the Ilizwi Lamafama movement to engage with people that are directly affected by the water situation and take people’s grievances to the streets and to [local government] offices. Until the water crisis is taken serious by our current government we will not stop fighting for people’s rights to land and water,” explains Mapisa.

Members from the Buffalo City and Amahlathi municipalities agreed to meet with community members to understand how the water crisis is affecting them. Places like Xhugwala, Mnxumbu, Dimbaza and King Williams Town have limited to no water access. People sometimes need to purchase Jojo tanks and while others fetch water from rivers. Areas such as the Buffalo City Municipality, like Nxarhuni and Cambridge, have access to water but the water is not suitable to use as drinking water. While some people can afford to buy clean water most can’t so they rely on boiling water before using it as a drinking water.

Ukuvuselela nokwakha Ilizwi Lamafama

Ilizwi Lamafama elithetha “the voice of the farmers” ngumbutho owasekwa wasekwa ngamafama asekuhlaleni eMpuma Koloni. Inamalungu angaphaya kwekhulu eMpuma Koloni nakwamanye amaphondo afana neKwaZulu Natal. Injongo yalo mbutho kukuvakalisa amafama,imiceli-mingeni nemizabalazo yawo ngokubanzi. Lo mbutho uyazingca ngokwenza i-agroecology kwaye uyakuphepha ukusebenzisa imbewu ye-GMO enokuba yingozi ebantwini nakwizityalo eziphilayo.

Amalungu eIlizwi Lamafama aphuma koomasipala abohlukeneyo abafana nomasipala waseRaymond Mhlaba, iBuffalo City neAmahlathi. Umasipala ngamnye unomceli mngeni owahlukileyo xa kufikelela kumhlaba namanzi. Umzabalazo ngamnye ufuna indlela eyahlukileyo.

Ukulandela ubhubhani we-Covid-19 kunye nokuvalwa kwelizwe, kuye kwaba nzima ukuququzelela njengentshukumo kwaye amalungu ebengasasebenzi njengangaphambi kokuvalwa. Amalungu elizwi Lamafama exhaswa nguLulama Joe Nkopo ophuma kwiTrust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), Aaron Ranayeke (TCOE), Andile Mapisa (Inyanda National Land Movement) kunye no Comrade Jende (Inyanda National Land Movement) emva koko bakhokele inkqubo yokuvuselela intshukumo ngoFebruwari nangoMatshi 2023. Injongo kukufumana iindlela njengeqela lokwakha ngokutsha intshukumo. “Le nkqubo iyinxalenye yokuvuselela i-Inyanda National Land Movement. Ukomelezwa kwemibutho yengingqi kunye nemibutho yindlela yokuqinisekisa ukuba kukho isiseko esiluqilima se-Inyanda, kuba kulapho kuzakwenzeka khona imizabalazo yalapha,” wongeze watsho uRanayeke waseTCOE.

Elinye lamaphulo abalulekileyo acetywayo liphulo lamanzi. “Kubaluleke kakhulu ukuba umbutho Ilizwi Lamafama udibane nabantu abachaphazeleka ngokuthe ngqo yimeko yamanzi kwaye izikhalazo zabantu bazise ezitalatweni nakwii-ofisi [zorhulumente wengingqi]. Ide ingxaki yamanzi ijongwe ngulo rhulumente sikhoyo asizoyeka ukulwela amalungelo abantu omhlaba namanzi,” ucacise watsho Andile Mapisa we Inyanda National Land Movement nonkwangunobhala we Camridge youth project eMonti.

Amalungu omasipala waseBuffalo City naseAmahlathi avumelene ngokudibana nabahlali ukuze baqonde ukuba ingxaki yamanzi ibachaphazela njani na. Iindawo ezifana neXhugwala, Mnxumbu, Dimbaza kunye neQonce azinamanzi kwaphela. Abantu ngamanye amaxesha kufuneka bathenge amatanki eJojo ngelixa abanye bekha amanzi emilanjeni. Iindawo ezifana nomasipala waseBuffalo City, ezifana neNxarhuni kunye neCambridge, ziyawafumana amanzi kodwa amanzi awakufanelanga ukuwasebenzisa njengamanzi okusela. Ngelixa abanye abantu bekwazi ukuthenga amanzi acocekileyo uninzi lwabo abanako ukuze bathembele kumanzi abilayo ngaphambi kokuba bawasebenzise njengamanzi okusela.

What Is An Employment Right?

South Africa has chosen the month March as the month to commemorate our Constitutional Rights.  This commemoration is the result of the period between 1959 to 1960 when the PAC organization led a campaign for civil rights and an end to the pass laws. The most significant of these peaceful protests occurred in Sharpville, Gauteng and Langa in Cape Town. But the apartheid government forces brutally suppressed and killed the demonstrators. The month of March serves as a reminder of the struggles and sacrifices made by South Africans during the apartheid era.

The South African constitution is regarded as one of best constitutions in the world but most South Africans live in very bad conditions. Unemployment is a major issue in South Africa, with over 14 million people, including many women and youth, out of employment.

The second chapter of the Constitution of South Africa establishes that the constitutional law is the foundation of democracy, dignity, equality and freedom.  However, despite everything, the constitution doesn’t mention the Right to Employment.

The lack of job opportunities in rural areas and the decline of traditional industries due to globalisation has left many young people without work. South Africa, due to its colonial history and racial discrimination, faces many challenges in its efforts to develop strong industries capable of creating sustainable job opportunities for its people. The lack of education and training opportunities for disadvantaged communities and the exploitation of workers by employers are major obstacles to progress in this regard

From 1994 to 2002, over a million jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate rose to over 40%. The situation has since improved slightly, but there is still much work to be done to create more job opportunities and to protect the rights of workers. The global economic recession of 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic have further exacerbated the problem of unemployment in South Africa, leaving many people struggling to find work.

It is therefore essential that South Africa upholds, enforces and includes the right to employment in the constitution to bring back the dignity of its citizens. Steps should be taken to create more job opportunities and to improve working conditions for all people. The struggle for employment rights is part of the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa.