Thato Moagi: Taking on challenges to achieve farming dreams

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS 

Thato Moagi, the first South African to receive the Nuffield Agricultural Scholarship talks about being a farmer and the managing director of the Legae La Banareng farm

My parents always encouraged us to explore and be worldly people. I believe it is through them that I had opportunities to travel this country and see different landscapes and learn to appreciate nature. By being exposed and well travelled I realised that I didn’t see many young people of colour into agriculture and science. This led me to investigate what are the possibilities and inspired me to study a BSc.

Moagi was chosen as the 2017 recipient of the Nuffield Agricultural Scholarship. She said on receiving it: “I hope that my experience with Nuffield and the exposure Nuffield will give me serves as an example to young people back home to show that there are amazing opportunities in agriculture. That these are the doors that can open for you.” 

I didn’t realise how privileged I was until I won my first farming accolade as young farmer of the year in Limpopo in 2015. Many young people would try to get a hold of me to share my experiences and it made me realise how many people do not have access to land and capital. It was hard work and things didn’t land on my lap. Just getting to the point where my father acquired the land was difficult. We had tried many times to apply for land from government schemes but failed. I had to leave home and work on other people’s farms to gain knowledge, confidence and experience. It was a period of sacrifice – leaving the comfort of urban life and fully immersing oneself in the rural environment. 

She has partnered with Momentum for their #SheOwnsHerSuccess campaign. Moagi said: “All we need is examples to make a change and help other women believe it is possible to be independent and succeed in your own right. This will help women see that they have an important role in participating in the economic environment.” 

I have faced many challenges in agriculture. From dealing with drought and finding ways to be productive in a changing climate. I faced challenges entering the commercial market which is a system which is not designed for new entrants. I have faced sexism, racism and ageism. 

However I believe each challenge is what defines you as an individual. The moments I faced challenges I decided to look at them as a way to learn new ways of doing things and new ways to communicate with people. It fuelled me to be active in leadership to ensure that the voices I represent matter and can be heard. 

Moagi’s words have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Featured image provided by Momentum

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