Established in 2015, Made With Rural strives to develop, support and mentor farmers to be market-ready and run sustainable farms that will improve the livelihoods of people in their communities.
“I grew up in a village in Makapanstad in the North West, where I was exposed to small-scale farmers who were sitting on arable land, but were living in poverty,” says Makoene. “The biggest challenge facing such farmers is a lack of resources. They don’t have enough information, production inputs, access to research and development and technical and business training. They are disadvantaged from the get go and yet they are expected to compete with award-winning farms across the country.”
Setting farmers up for success
Makoene has taken it upon herself to provide such rural communities with information, methods and techniques which will allow them to succeed. Made With Rural has developed an app called Pocket Crop that covers:
- Farm management: How to better run your farm with detailed information on the pre-harvesting and post harvesting aspects of the business.
- Marketplace: It allows for group buying of production inputs, and group selling (aggregating the produce with other farmers in their network), making it easier to move big quantities.
- Networking: The app enables farmers in the network to interact and mentor each other.
- Best industry practices: The latest industry trends.
- Weather: Updates on weather patterns.
Made With Rural is also striving to change perceptions of the industry and is spearheading two campaigns that encourage consumers to support emerging farmers. The first is #Thankthefarmer, which encourages people to appreciate the work that farmers put in and the second is #Knowyourfarmer, which promotes being informed about where your food comes from and how it is produced.
“On the farming side, we are working on ways to make farming more attractive by utilising technology and finding fun ways to get young people involved,” says Makoene. “So far our hard work is paying off. We have increased efficiency and revenue in our network of farmers. One of the farmers we work with used to earn R2 000. A year after joining the programme, he earns an average of R100 000 per month.”
Focusing on the future
Makoene says the plight of emerging farmers is not only the responsibility of the government, but it is a problem that concerns us all.
“The industry is cold and impatient towards the small-scale farmer. The pricing model of our fresh produce is designed in a way that is not beneficial to the small-scale farmer in the long run. The industry has complicated our biggest means of feeding our communities with nutritious vegetables and creating lasting employment.
“I have learnt that it is time we stop conforming to the traditional way of doing things and start looking at innovative ways to make the system work for all involved, especially the communities that can be transformed by it. We also need to make nutritious agricultural produce accessible to all, especially customers who are at the bottom of the pyramid across the continent,” she concludes.
Makoene’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Just start! Start where you are, with what you have.
- Connect with like-minded communities.
- Do your research.
- Remember to plough back into your community. Let’s find solutions for our own people on our own continent.