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Mr Cosmas Dumezweni Xaba (50) is a family man with a wife, seven children and one grandchild. He retired from the mines in 2008 to come and farm, growing crops and rearing livestock. He strongly believes in doing things for the well-being of his family. He is a pastor at a local church and is also quite influential in local agricultural community development
programmes.

Mr Xaba owns 10 cattle and 53 sheep and uses 3 hectares to grow most of his food, which include spinach, potatoes, beans as well as maize. He sells access produce locally and provides temporary employment to support the efforts of his family members. He is supported in these efforts by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Agriculture, KWANALU and Lima RDF, an NGO that supports smallholders with advice and through a revolving loan fund, which supports his maize, broiler and potato production efforts.

His work with KWANALU led to his cooperative being awarded a 1-row animaldrawn knapic planter through the DRDLR LandCare programme. His crop production and selling enterprises has allowed him to buy a bakkie that he is now using to deliver orders around the area. In the 2015/2016 season, for example, he had a turnover of R8050 from his potatoes.

The need for financial capital for Mr Xaba’s enterprises is significant, which led him to join a village level savings group initiated by Mahlathini Development Foundation and Strategic Action (a micro finance collaboration). The group was established in March 2017 and will be used as a financial institution for his enterprises. He recently took a loan from the group in attempts to source a maize thresher that will help him to reduce hours of work shelling maize manually.

He is currently the chairperson of a farmer association through KWANALU and a local facilitator for the Grain SA Farmer Innovation Programme (FIP) for smallholders implemented in Madzikane in collaboration with KWANALU.

Mr Xaba has been exposed to practices such as minimum tillage, improved seeds and a range of agro-chemicals through collaborative work with PANNAR. He has tried minimum tillage for a couple of years and has witnessed increased land production potential and efficient use of inputs, saving both labor and money. However, he was not familiar with the other CA principles and practices, such as increased diversity (e.g. through intercropping) and permanent organic soil cover. He was eager to try this out with various planting methods and implements to compare it with his normal mono-cropping practice.

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