Peggy Moele proves that Aquaponics is an innovative way to breed organic food for African communities

56-year-old Peggy Moele is one of the few women in South Africa practicing aquaponics and aquaculture-agriculture in her 10 hector veg and fisheries farm.

The new system of aquaponics and aquaculture has helped Peggy win awards and getting much recognition and a helping hand from the Department of Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in her country, South Africa.

She was one of the few women of a group of farmers funded to go on an excursion tour and workshop in chines province to learn about the modern solutions to organic farming and fisheries in early 2017.  

Khethiwe Mndawe interviewed Peggy Moela after receiving her award as woman farmer of the year in her municipality and nomination nationally at the Woman in agriculture awards 2017.

Peggy was born and raised in rural Bushbuckridge, growing up with values that depend on the land farming to create sustainable solutions for the community to never go hungry.

As a young woman growing up in the nomadic homelands, the poverty of the families around her always touch her to work towards how she can bring solutions for other families and greater way of making a living. 

“I started out running a catering business, unable to find work in my area yet seeing the poverty and lots of lands always draw me to agriculture I came from a poor background and I’ve always see the  challenges and need of the people in my community and it has always been a wish of mine to create employment” said Peggy

Running Jubilee farms with her son they had decided that they wanted to go into fisheries and explored those possibilities after a visit for an official from the department of agriculture, in her province who expanded their knowledge and supported then in kick-starting building their first pond.

After having built over 10 ponds and growing they started with 360 Tapia fish from Mozambique practice and  Aqua phonic and aquaculture fish farming and organic veg farming and their journey in China studying the different options toward organic farming and fisheries.

Mrs. Peggy Moele got her first recognition  after winning as the female entrepreneur farmer of the year 2016, she was selected as the top female in agriculture in Bushbuckridge again in 2017 and awarded at the Provincial agriculture female awards by the minister of Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries 2017 and nominated in the nationals for her unique and developing farming business in her 10 hector farm.

A system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.

With pigs and cows that she has bread over the years, she had discovered with her son the proactive of aquaculture, using excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the same pond water, increasing toxicity.

“With the aquaponics system, we use the water from an aquaculture system which we feed to a hydroponic system. The by-products are broken down by nitrifying bacteria into nitrites and subsequently into nitrates, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system”.

“We have been doing most of the work ourselves in putting these systems together and they have produced many results and  accelerate the  vision or organic farms and fisheries for the community and working toward commercial  supply.” Said, her son, Boka Moele, Manager of the Jubilee farm

“Seeing that I came from elders who always ventured into farming, feeding the communities and sustaining themselves through farming. It was easy for me to decide to go into farming. I took all my profits and saving from my catering business, and in 2011 I approached the chiefs in my village area and bought about 10 hectares of land” said Peggy Moele

They started to use 6 hectors of the land and cleared, to begin seasonal crop farming. Things were very difficult in the beginning, I couldn’t afford any workers, those that worked for me, I would offer them and their families groceries and vegetable to sustain them as we were struggling and still growing.  

“After the department had heard about my farm in Bushbuckridge, they came to view our farm our progress and to hear what challenges we were facing.  The official then introduced us to aquaculture and fisheries, he showed us how to build our first pond and ever since we have built much more on our own to cater for our fisheries business. We have since been breading the Mozambique Tilapia fish. Initially, we started with 360 fishes in 2013 and we are amazed at how much the fishes continue to grow and multiply. We have since been having a good relationship with the DPT of agriculture and they have been very good to us in assisting us and I am so grateful” said Mrs. Peggy Moele

Today we have close to 20 ponds in counting, a good irrigation system and they have been adding their keep of cows and pigs. The farm sustains itself with the season veg crops they farm and they have opened not to various student and agriculture researcher to use and practice form.

“We are so proud of her and we believe she is the best representative of women youth farmers. We hope form today onwards mayflies will follow her. It is inspiring to see our women in mud and surrounded by flies other that plastic hair and makeup  because we admire  that when they touch the land they subdue and multiply its uses to feed the nation and with this they can lead the men working with the land and producing form it to a point of  economic contribution” said Minister of Agriculture and rural development and affairs in the Mpumalanga province, Mr. Vusi Shongwe

They have hired a few young people and families in her surrounding communities, who work and contribute to the development and economic transformation of sustainable farm in the Mpumalanga province that is going commercial and exploring n bigger markets. They also produce mangoes, tomatoes, banana and popos, spinach.

“She is one of the women who represent the backbone of development of rural and national economies. Their exact contribution in terms of magnitude and nature remain difficult to assess due to the variations in different regions. Evidence shows that through contributions like her in her area and marginal participation in agriculture and fisheries, they make significant contributions to food security and economic development of countries all over the world.” said the minister of agriculture Mr. Senzeni Zokwana

“There is a need to invest in female farmers and we as three South African government have son what great breakthrough and community employment come through if we empower these women like Peggy,” he continued.

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Urban-rural migration and the weird city girl that dares it

While rural-urban resettlement may be the most studied human migration pattern, it definitely isn’t the only existing one. Considering the pros of urbanization and the excitement that the urban switch stirs, it is understandably confusing that anyone would want to spin the bottle the other way around. I’m talking about urban-rural migration. Yes. Packing up your valuables then taking a hike out of town, destination, some good old rural grounds with the intention to settle for a few months…or for good. Talk about a reverse trend. The question is, why?

You know how when almost everyone gravitates towards something, it becomes particularly precious? Urban cities illustrate this best with their high cost of living and increased competition over limited resources. The basic structure of the urban system in itself is as magnetic as it is frustrating. As much as we love it, sometimes it gets too much and there is a yearning to shut out the noise of the city. This goes beyond taking days off work, or locking up and staying indoors.

Rural life presents a picture of serenity, easy living and greater mental focus -which we like to call ‘clarity of mind’. It also suggests cheaper land and rent, a chance to work without constant disturbance of modern tools and to learn the art of human relations in its most basic form. Now for the soulful African woman who needs to find herself but cannot because of the confusing urban noise and pressure, ruralism may be a very bold step. Moreso if it involves living alone, as many African cultures still raise eyebrows at the single woman who dares to live alone. Yet, it just might work.

Going rural may not be at the top of the list for most young women. But, when it does become a choice, it is always a good idea to start a business that will give financial security. Here are a few ideas;

Carefully_with_productsGo ruralpolitan

Be that city girl that knows how to farm.

Those who know this, know this, farming is good business. There is something strongly appealing about a farm girl. She’s a girl you do not want to mess with. Everyone loves to eat, even those who don’t eat much still need food. Cultivate maize, yams, vegetables, fruits…anything that works with available soil. There’s no shame in it. Farm and sell the produce within your community and find a market in the nearest city.

Here’s a fact; because of the absence of chemicals and smoke from industrial chimneys, crops grown in rural areas thrive, look and taste better. Get into some animal farming too. Rear chickens and sell the eggs, add goats to the mix if you can. And if people like rabbits in your part of town? Do not hesitate.

Set up a bakery 

We haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t enjoy a good loaf of bread.

Chances are the nearest bakery is a good distance away from your town and folks do not particularly like walking so far to get some flour in their diet. Bake breads, doughnuts, rolls, pies even sweets if you know how to and sell. Drum up some new confectionery when you can and introduce it. You’ll be shocked to find how receptive people are to the new. They won’t just want to see it in your show-glass, they will want to taste it too!

Become a transporter

At a reasonable fee, of course.

If it’s high, you may very well just ride alone.This may be tricky because of the cost of the vehicle in question whether motorcycle, motorcar or van. If you have any of these, transporting would be good commercial enterprise to undertake. Don’t just ride that bike or car, make some cool cash out of it.

Launch a convenience store

Every town big or small needs a convenience store (guess that’s why it’s called “convenience”).

Before you do this, find out about the people living in your area and what they gravitate towards. This way you don’t waste time trying to sell things nobody has any interest in buying. It does not necessarily have to be a big shop at first. You could start small then later expand to something larger and on and on.

Stock up on products you know people cannot do without, things they like but can’t get because they have to go miles to find them. Save them the trouble and include all those things in your store. This business ensures a steady flow of income everyday!

Start up a medical care/pharmacy

Please be certified to do this. You don’t want law enforcement agencies knocking on your door one day out of the blue -that just smashes the whole idea of peace and quiet, don’t you think?

Much as this is humanitarian, it is also a service provision that comes with a fee. People have headaches or illnesses they simply can’t explain, women get pregnant, children run, fall and get bruises. Every one of them needs to be treated. Every town or village needs a medical facility no matter how healthy-looking the environment is.

Open a beauty salon

People get tired of doing their own hair. Even those who didn’t give it much of a thought earlier will suddenly begin to find their way to your shop once it opens up. Beware, you need to be able to make that hair sing. A lack of skill will quickly bring an end to customers trooping in.

Establish a guesthouse

Why open a guesthouse in a rural area? It’s as confusing as it is simple. City dwellers may not always like to go to small towns or villages but they usually pass through. Whether they come alone or are accompanied by friends, city dwellers will visit family ‘back home’ for festivities. Most of them will require lodging so that they don’t inconvenience their hosts. It would be a great idea to establish a place where they can lay their heads for the night or for a few days before moving on. Even better if your guesthouse provides meals.

Bottom line: When it happens that for any particular reasons you choose to go rural, keep in mind that ruralism is not the end of life. It is a simple way to initiate a lifestyle change that could be more rewarding than you think!