Proud local commercial crop farmer Mathews Ledwaba implemented an agricultural master plan five years ago, that enabled him to provide adequate food and fresh produce for consumers during level four and level five of the lockdown.
The epoch which posed many uncertainties for many saw consumers clearing the shelves at the local grocery stores and supermarkets as they were preparing for the nationwide lockdown for the initial 21 days.
Community members resorted to stockpiling as a precautionary measure allaying fears of grocery stores and supermarkets running out of food and basic amenities.
Supermarkets implemented the rationing of certain items in response to customers’ panic-buying and stockpiling.
Ledwaba, was among other local farmers who had to punch above their weight and ensure that there is enough food for everyone during this time.
The 44-year-old and his employees said they had to deliver 2 000 heads of cabbage, 4 000 bunches of spinach, 1 500 grades of tomatoes, 300 grades of butternut and 1 000 bags a day green pepper to various supermarkets in the province everyday.
He says the experience of dealing with bigger markets was a master key in ensuring that there is adequate food for everyone.
“We supply vegetables to Spar, Boxer SuperStores, Choppies Enterprises, OK Foods and Medupi Mine. Those are the bigger markets and the experience we got from working with them prepared us well. We always planned ahead and strategy pulled us through during the lockdown.
“We are farming on a 105ha farm at Ga-Maraba and we ensure that all crops are ready for harvesting,” Ledwaba said.
He described the lockdown period as a test for all business and everyone.
“It was a test for us and we had to rise to the occasion. We did not encounter any challenges but embraced every task. It was a different working experience. There was a huge demand for fresh produce and we had to deliver,” Ledwaba said.
He also thanked his employees for their selflessness and hard work during the lockdown. “I have employed 75 locals on the farm and it was easy for them because at the time we did not know a lot about the virus. They braved the storm and ensured that there was food to feed the nation.”
He further stated that during the lockdown they also provided food parcels to homeless and indigent people in Polokwane and surrounding areas.
Story: Herbert Rachuene