Reduce risk with diversification

Baby vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, orchards, small livestock, cattle… The list goes on. Tshepiso Mametja, owner of Maswele Farming in Limpopo, has a lot on her plate but she makes it work. Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, meets this incredible female farmer who dares to dream big. 

Tshepiso Mametja grew up on a farm where her mother, Constance, and her father, Rex, farmed with mangoes, tomatoes and cabbages. During the school holidays, she had to sell the farm’s produce and learned first-hand how to take responsibility for what you want to achieve in life.

Years later, the Mametjas still all farm together – except Tshepiso now leads the way, leaning on her father’s knowledge and experience but guiding the business into the future by showing her parents how to modernise their farming methods. 

“How does Tshepiso keep track of all these commodities?” Sithole wants to know. Tshepiso says running such a big operation requires expert planning and many years of hard work. 

Matome Ramokgopa of Enza Zaden SA says the benefits of planting an assortment of crops outweigh the risks. It is actually a modern way to mitigate risk. Risk reduction based on diversification of assets is a well-studied mechanism in economics. Applied in agriculture, it helps to spread out the risks of adverse weather, pests and all sorts of other challenges.

“Good cash crops like baby zucchinis help with cash flow, whereas longer crops like tomatoes ensure the sustainability of the business,” he says.”

This means the crops are constantly harvested, enabling you to supply the market with products continuously. It is also beneficial for the community, as you create more jobs rather than just hiring seasonal labourers.” 

According to Ramokgopa, it is important to try to use crops with similar fertiliser requirements. “From a practical standpoint, this can help to ease the planning and management burden on the farmer.” When producing such a variety of crops, he says, it is critical to be in good standing with your clients by maintaining the quality of the final products. 

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