As a novice farmer in 2018, Teboho Mpholo (45) from Ha-Mants’ebo, south of Maseru, never thought he could employ four people and be able to support his family through farming.
For someone whose only knowledge of agricultural production was ploughing his parents’ field and a stint as a farm worker in the Free State in South Africa from 2001 to 2007, Mr Mpholo has not done badly for himself.
His big white farming tunnels which he uses to plough vegetables are conspicuous to passersby who often express amusement at such advanced form of agricultural production.
From being a farm worker in the Free State, Mr Mpholo went further to Johannesburg to become a factory worker. When he realized he could not get the freedom and income he had expected, the farming bug bit again and he headed back to Lesotho to start green house farming.
When he still could not reach his target, he decided to invest in a big way and bought tunnels to grow tomatoes, spinach, green pepper, green beans and peas.
“I did not go to school to learn how to plant and practice agriculture but grew up tilling the land from a young age. I sharpened my knowledge of agriculture by working in a farm in the Free State where I was always following instructions of my boss until I could do the work by myself without being supervised,” he says.
He saw tunnels being used at a farm where he was working and decided that it was the best way to grow seeds as they were temperature controlled. In addition, the irrigation system worked during dry and rainy seasons resulting in amazing produce.
When he returned home he told his younger sister who studied agriculture at the University of Fort Hare that he wanted to grow plants using nets. His sister supported him in buying the tunnels and water tanks, irrigation system and erection of a borehole. They have spent around M200 000 on the project.
“My plants are protected from extreme weather conditions such as hot weather, cold weather and heavy hailstorms which normally destroy the plants, “he asserts.
Father of three children, Mr Mpholo sells his produce to individuals and shops at Ha-Mants’ebo area, but his ambition is to supply bigger supermarkets. He has realized that people like fresh food, hence the advantage of producing throughout the year despite different weather and climate conditions.