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Tsakane Matsoga to become main player in potato farming

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

A trial partnership between small- scale farmer Tsakane Matsoga, Potatoes SA and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD) is benefitting the province's farming comm-
unity. Farmers from Bochum in Limpopo have partnered with Potatoes SA to produce topquality potatoes.

Matsoga (48) has produced R76 000 worth of potatoes on less than a single hectare of her farm in Bochum. Potatoes SA provided fertilisers, technical education on chemical use and best farming practices to Matsoga and farmers from the villages of Ga-Mashalane and Gemarkte, also in Bochum.

“Following the success of the trial, we have increased the size of the project from less than a hectare to 6.5 hectares.

“The partnership with Potatoes SA and LDARD has helped teach me about the best fertilisers and chemicals and how to check for soil moisture using a thermometer,” says Matsoga.

The department supplied the farmers with potato seeds and pesticides.

Matsoga says that she was able to harvest 2 320 pockets of Mondial potatoes.

Mondial potatoes make up 51% of potato cultivation across the globe, with only 1.5% of that cultivated in South Africa.

The farmers signed a five-year agreement with Potatoes SA, that will see them receive production inputs to the value of R500 000 each year. In the first year, the farmers will get these inputs for free. In the second year, they will pay for 25%, followed by 50% (third year), 75% (fourth year) and the full amount in the fifth year.

The project is part of LDARD's Revitalisation of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Value Chain (RAAVC) plan. The plan sees LDARD and Potatoes SA signing a memorandum of understanding to help develop the potato farming sector in Limpopo.

“The aim is to provide a comprehensive technology transfer and enterprise support to farmers in aid of the RAAVC commodity focus approach,” says LDARD's spokesperson Joshua Kwapa.

He adds that the department’s RAAVC Plan will sustain and strengthen the province’s competitiveness in the primary production of high-value agricultural commodities.

Limpopo accounts for 21% of the total area under potato production in the country.

Farmers looking to participate in the programme can visit www.ldard.gov.za