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.