While many youths roam the city streets in search of employment and flock to urban centres for greener pastures some 15 agricultural-savvy young people in Tapaladipoo and Tonota have turned to tilling the soil to make a living.
Twenty-two year old BokamosoMothodi, whostarted farming his parents’ fields while still in secondary school, has no regrets about his chosen career.
“I’m enjoying my life as a farmer.I work at my own pace. It is a lifestyle and business which needs someone who loves it,” said Bokamoso.
Without any professional training in agriculture, the young man learnedthe basics under the tutelage of his mother and with the help of an agricultural extension officer.
“My parents gave me eight hectares of their farm to plough in 2011, before I had completed my Form 5.
Back then I was using the Setswana method of planting. Just simply broadcasting the seeds,” said Bokamoso.
“Whatever money I earned from what I sold I gave to my parents.
I was not treating farming as a business.
Since last year I changed the way of doing things and since then I have seen good returns.
Row planting saves seeds and the harvestis much better.”
“Last year I made P46 000 from selling watermelons.
Partof the money I used to buy my own field,” he said.
The soft-spoken young farmer who has planted black-eyed beans, millet, and maize and lebaleba is optimistic of raking in more money this year.
“After supplying schools with fresh maize, I am expecting 16 bags of dry maize, 22 bags of mabele and three tonnes of black-eyed beans.
The lebaleba which you see is to feed my cows and goats,”explained Bokamoso as we toured his field.
Unlike many youngsters who shun farming because they want to be city dwellers,Bokamoso said he is always in Francistown as early as 05.30 in the morning delivering his bundles of sweet sugar cane.
“I hardly miss anything. Tonota is less than an hour’s drive from Francistown.
In a week I make at least P 3 500 from selling sweet cane to vendors in Francistown.”
Just like the meaning of his name the 22 year-old farmer said his life has a bright future.
And his dream will only be realized when he becomes a serious and recognized commercial farmer.
“Now that I have bought my own farm, the next step is to de-bush it ready for ploughing next season.
I also want to buy my own farming implements.
What I have managed to achieve for myself and my family is through the use of my hands.
Other young people can do the same, by making use of government schemes to create employment for themselves.
At the same time feeding the nation,” ended Bokamoso.
MphoKhiwa left her secretarial job in an air-conditioned office to spend endless days under the scorching sun.
Two years later the single mother has no regrets.
“I wanted to be my own boss, determine my income.
Farming is a diamond! I make more money here than what I used to earn while working as a secretary,” smiles Mpho.
The 27 year-old mother of one has this year cultivated 10 hectares,twice as much as when she started farming in 2012.
Instead of letting her grandma’s fields lay to waste, the young lady decided to turn the land into cash.
“I don’t sleep because I have so much to do. I’mdoing all this for my family, my siblings, in order for us to have an inheritance and a better future.
Because I am doing something I love I don’t feel the pinch. Five years from today I will still be a farmer, tilling the land.
Nothing will change my heart,” insisted the young female farmer.
Despite her crop of black-eyed beans recently being attacked by aphids and having to walk a long distance to tender her field, Mpho is not discouraged.
“I believe one day I will buy a vehicle and life will be easier.”
Though a university graduate and full-time bank employee, GoemeGanetsang’s first love for farming is not lost.
“Everdayafter knocking off from work, I head straight to my farm.
I spend my weekends here. My life is here,”emphasizedGoeme.
He attributes his love for the soil to his upbringing.
“Back in the daymy parents made me understand that it is only from the fields that we got our food.
And if we did not go to the fields to collect our weekly ration, that week would we would go hungry.
It is from those childhood days, that I grasped the importance of farming and fell in love with it,” explained the heavily built Goeme.
The 35 year-old banker with the help of his business partner has planted 30 hectares of black-eyed beans and cowpeas.
“The reason I decided to concentrate on beans, is because it’s a cash crop which does not need much water. It is easier to grow.
As long as you weed and control pests, you are sure of a harvest. Theselling prices are attractive too,” said Ganetsang.
Though he had aimed to harvest three tonnes perhectare, due to this year’s heavy downpour he estimates his yield will be reduced.
“I will be able to get at least two tonnes per hectare. This is better than what I got last year.
Lastseason I harvested 70 bags of beans and was only able to break even.”
Casting his eyes across the well-fenced farm, Goeme still has plans to clear the remaining 60 hectares.
“Part of this land I wanted to reserve for breeding stud cows,” he disclosed.
The business minded farmer challenges more Batswana to take the agricultural bull by the horns.
“Young people lack commitment. Without it one cannot achieve anything.
For small farmers government is doing everything for us. All they want from us is to prepare the land.
Young people should stand up and stop complaining,” concluded Goeme.