South Africa (Winterveldt)
Although farming still seems like an un-cool career option to many young people, Mmabatho Morudi wants to change the face of agriculture: “It’s known as a business for old, dirty looking males in khakis. But I can still rock my stilettos and be a farmer.”
When the agri-preneur’s grandfather invited her to go on a beekeeping course four years ago, she never imagined it would take her this far.
Soon after resigning from her job in education, the 32 year old started her beekeeping business, Iliju, on her grandfather’s farm in Winterveldt, northwest of Pretoria. The agricultural village is land where black people were allowed to buy plots specifically for agricultural purposes during apartheid. Shortly after starting the business Mmabatho realised that many of the farmers in the village struggled to market their produce and could use help improving their harvest.
“I asked a few of the farmers if I could place hives on their farms to help improve the quality of their produce, and buy their vegetables then sell them to clients in Johannesburg and Pretoria,” she says. The more the farmers planted the more the bees had food to survive, which led them to pollinate and help grow more vegetables. “We now go to different rural communities and empower them by giving hives, which make honey that they sell back to us.”
This has become a huge part of Mmabatho’s business and she now runs The Village Market, which sells vegetables and honey straight from the farmers to the consumer. They’re also working with animal protection organisation Elephants Rhinos and People on the border of South Africa and Mozambique, where they train communities – including children and youth – in beekeeping. “There is a huge problem on the border for small scale farmers, with elephants raiding crops and charging at farmers. We introduced the bee fence, which is made up of hives that keep the elephants away. The honey which comes from the hives is also sold to The Village Market, which means more business for the farmers.”
Mmabatho says her motivation is the potential of rural communities and her desire to showcase all the beautiful things that come from them. “This business is about working hard and in agriculture nothing is guaranteed. But you have to keep going because giving up is not an option.”
Adapted from a piece from Red Bull Amaphiko (22 May 2017)
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