“With a can-do attitude, Eric Mauwane, owner of Oneo Farms, already overcame some of the greatest challenges faced by farmers,” says Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2. She interviews this inspirational farmer to find out more about how he stays positive even though he’s had to start over when his crops were recently destroyed by extremely low temperatures.
Eric Mauwane’s father, who had been his mentor, passed away recently. “He thought me never to give up and to follow my dreams no matter the challenges in my way,” Mauwane says.
It is Mauwane’s dream to deliver quality peppers and chillies to the local and international markets for generations to come. “I want Oneo Farms to become synonymous with peppers and chillies – I want our brand to become a household name.”
From the beginning, Mauwane chose to partner with several agribusinesses like John Deere and Standard Bank. Among them was Corteva Agriscience. Freddie Ndindana, technical sales representative at Corteva Agriscience, says the company has been assisting Mauwane since the beginning. “We are on a long journey together,” he says.
According to Ndindana, one of the challenges Mauwane faces is the eradication of weeds. “His weed pressure was high: the grass weed species, especially, was prevalent. We helped him to choose a good herbicide, and then we created a good spray programme. This helped him immensely in improving the quality of his crops.”
To keep insects and pests at bay, they opted to use a broad-spectrum pesticide, Ndindana says. “It was also important for Eric to adopt a good scouting strategy to monitor the possible problems that could arise in his field. He taught his employees how to scout, which made a huge difference.”
Scouting is the process of monitoring fields for the presence of pests and diseases or any potential issues that could obstruct crop growth (irrigation leaks, trellis breakages and so forth). Planning to scout regularly is an important tool in controlling weeds and pests.
Ndindana believes the key to success is asking for expert help and staying hungry for learning new things. “The help of a reliable agronomist could change the course of how you do things on the farm.”