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Farmer overcomes COVID-19 obstacles

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

A young sheep farmer is looking to become a producer of the highest grade Dohne Merino sheep in the Eastern Cape.

Owner of Agric EC Siposetu Jilata (29) explains that this breed is known for its quality wool and meat.

Jilata, who holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics degree from the University of Fort Hare, started the farm in 2017, after struggling to find a job.

Through Agric EC, she offers business development consultancy services to people who are in the agriculture sector.Siposetu Jilata has big dreams for her farm.

“I help up-and-coming farmers with drawing up business plans, proper documentation to apply for funding and other administration processes that are needed to run a successful commercial farm.

“This part of the Agric EC business works with the Small Enterprise Development Agency and other development agencies, which recommend clients to me when people need to get business development services,” says Jilata.

Unfortunately, the consultancy business took a knock because of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) so Jilata started focusing on the livestock farming side of her business.

The sheep she sells for between R1 800 and R2 200 each have helped keep her afloat.

“COVID-19 slowed down the consultancy business due to people no longer starting farming projects. A lot of people who were using their savings or extra income to start farming enterprises no longer had the appetite for it.

“I had started farming Dohne Merino sheep in 2017 but they were not the main focus of my business until last year, when COVID-19 arrived.

“Then, in an effort to improve the quality of my sheep, I applied for and received two Dohne Merino sheep from the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.”

The two rams Jilata received from the department are of a better quality than her current herd. She says she will use the rams to breed and thus improve the quality of the wool and meat produced on her farm.

The donation to Jilata was part of the department’s livestock improvement programme, which is aimed at helping small-scale farmers become more competitive against their established counterparts. 

For more information on the programme, contact the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform at 040 602 5006 or www.drdlr.gov.za.