Agroecology in the Lower Olifants

Mariam Malepe (cluster leader from Botshabelo) demonstrating how she is using mulching (left) and other water conservation practices (right) in her garden.

Small-scale farming in the Lower Olifants (Mametja area in the Mopani District) is supported by a grant to Mahlathini Development Foundation. Farmers from 8 villages are participating in the project, with the cluster (learning group) membership currently at about 60.

Farmers are battling serious water supply problems, but there are several examples of how they have adapted their practices in response to the hot and dry conditions – these include using shade cloth tunnels, trench beds, mulching and eco-circles. Field-based training include use of hand-held and animal-drawn planters, mixed cropping, field cropping, tunnel construction, planning, planting schedules, record-keeping and herb production and marketing.

On the right, Anna Molala (cluster leader for Makweng and Dithabaneng), discussing the cultivation of herbs with a fellow farmer.

Agroecology in the Middle Olifants

Small-scale farming in the Middle Olifants (including Sekhukhune and Capricorn districts) is supported by a subgrant to Ukuvuna Harvests. The cluster (learning group) includes 12 villages, and 300 members of which 65% are women. In addition, the project has also engaged 18 community groups including schools, churches, crèches and clinics on supporting food security.

An exciting development has been the emergence of a group of youth farmers who are not participating in the project. Ukuvuna, together with AWARD and Hoedspruit Hub, has supported these young farmers with training and access to materials.

At least half the farmers in the cluster are generating extra income by selling vegetables, herbs and livestock – in one village, Dithabaneng, this was as high as 72% of farmers.

To support local leadership, Ukuvuna established two committees to act as the primary entry point for all project management, event planning and communication with Ukuvuna and AWARD in the Middle Olifants. These community-level structures provide more space for farmers to be involved in their own development processes.


A story of success, youth farmers in Motetema designed and built their own water harvesting tank and irrigation system from scrap. AWARD is currently investigating ways to support their proactive and engineering spirit.