From being a primary health care giver to a prominent Commercial female farmer in the Province, Ms. Hazel Mathelela from Arnot in Steve Tshwete Municipality has been awarded the 2018 best emerging beef producer in the country at the ARC National Beef Perfomers Awards held in October. With only 90 cattle she got into the competition through her participation in the Kaonofatso ya Dikgomo programme run by Agricultural Research Council which assist cattle farmers with a breeding plan. This programme is partaken through production reports which are documented by the farmer and monitored by ARC officials.
Mathelela’s contribution in the sector has grown immensely over the years, from starting with only one calf bought from her parents in 1984 and farming for recreation into taking agriculture as a business. This has been proven by the number of accolades in her name ever since she decided to take agriculture as a fulltime job. She had reigned in the Provincial DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards whereby she scooped the first prize as the Top Entrepreneur in the sector in the Commercial category and ultimately awarded the Overall winner in the Province in 2015.It is quite evident that she takes her work seriously as she has been recognized as a hard working farmer in her specialized commodities which is Grains, Poultry and Beef Production. She also received an achievement certificate for producing more than 500 tons in the year 2017 by Grain SA and Monsanto.
She says her love for agriculture was planted in 2006 when attending the Female Farmer of the year provincial event in Middelburg where she was invited by one of the Agricultural Advisor in trying to encourage her and exposing her to opportunities which government had for women in agriculture and was also fortunate to attend the National Event in Durban. “This is the year whereby the former Minister of Agriculture Lulu Xingwane initiated that women should organize themselves and formed WARD (Women in Agriculture and Rural Development) in the country. I was one of the first members in the province and this demanded more time and patience since we had to nurture this new baby and raise awareness in all women in South Africa.” This is the year in which she decided to work night shift as a nurse in order to fit in her farming activities during the day. As her passion and commitment towards agriculture matured, she resigned in October 2006 as a nurse to become a full time farmer with only 6 cattle.
Ever since then she never looked back, she protruded, she got a farm through Plaas programme and went to Thailand in 2008 delegated by Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs through National department of Agriculture to learn about the formation of cooperatives. She also echoes appreciation for the assistance she receives from Dardlea, more specifically the Drakensberg Bull she got in 2012, which really improved her herd. As part of the prize for the National Beef Performers Awards, she will be undertaking a trip to the Livestock Congress in New York.” I will use every opportunity I get to encourage the farmers, mostly the local black emerging farmers to make farming fashionable in a good way, to make it a business. It is my wish to see more farmers being recognized as best producers as well because this simply confirms that you are growing as a livestock farmer and you are on the right path as a business person.”