Farmers’ Diaries: Sihle Maseko

August signals the end of winter and a time farmers can look forward to the start of the new season. A busy time as herds and flocks are calving and lambing, or they are just about to do so. It is also a time for strategising and planning for breeding and planting.


Sihle Maseko, Burnshill, Eastern Cape

I farm in the Burnshill Location, a small village in the Keiskammahoek area of the Eastern Cape. I have a diploma in Agricultural Management which I obtained in 2020 at Nelson Mandela University (George Campus).

I farm a few types of vegetables, for crop rotation purposes, under irrigation and have cabbage as a dominant crop this season. We also do green mielies which we sell in the township to the informal market.

We have just finished harvesting the last of the mielies and planted our cabbage in March. Since then, we have transplanted about 12 000 cabbage seedlings every month. After harvesting the mealies, we make the stover available to livestock farmers in the village. This way there is no waste.

When they are done, we begin our soil preparations by ploughing. We then spread some basic fertiliser using a fertiliser spreader and follow up with discing and ridging. We have a herbicide spraying programme to suppress weeds which may compete with the plants. Seven days after spraying we start planting.

Due to the increase in fertiliser prices, we only fertilise twice after trans-planting at a three-week interval. We fertilise three weeks after planting then again three to four weeks later.

Because it is winter, there are very few pests and diseases, so we only spray every second week. We have a sprinkler irrigation system, and we irrigate once a week for three hours.

We have had good rain this winter and our soil moisture has improved in all our lands. We sell our produce to supermarkets and hawkers in King Williams Town and in the neighbouring towns of Keiskammahoek, Alice and Fort Beaufort.

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