Meet our partner farmer; Dr. Agnes Setai – owner and manager of a growing cattle farm in the Vrede district, Free State, South Africa.
We recently met up with Dr. Setai on a visit and took the opportunity to interview her.
Here’s her farming story…
“My name is Agnes Setai, I’m a cattle farmer in the Vrede district. I started farming in 2013 with my late husband Bethuel Setai. Unfortunately he passed on in 2015 but I continued farming.
We farm on a farm leased from the government and we chose to farm with cattle because we are slowing down, retiring into farming. We have Angus herd and Bonsmara cows and what we were looking for was a place that was best in cattle farming and we lucky to acquire that.
What we do in addition to producing the calves and going to auctions and all, we make sure that we take care of our livestock. My profession, I’m a medical Doctor so I concentrate on animal health and I make sure that we go through all the aspects. The cows are beautiful; you look after them, they’ll look after you.
We have provided employment in the area, I have hard working farm workers. They are part of the bigger family and we are supported by the Government wholeheartedly, especially our area which is endowed with animal wealth. and we have some associations like AFASA where we support each other and in my particular case NERPO which is for beef production and we support each other amongst black farmers as well as even white farmers, our neighbours, and I promise if you all work together we will get somewhere in South Africa.
Some of the challenges we have had have been drought and lack of funding – it’s always the case. We told ourselves that this was not going to be an obstacle:
If you can dream it, you can do it.That was the motto.
From the help that I get, among other people in the network, with women and also the youth in the area, in particular Phumelela district, we have a proper working agricultural department and we do support each other.
One of the things that I have to mention, in addition to networking, as in any other business, I happened to have encountered this young, dynamic gentleman who had started what is called Livestock Wealth.
What a wonderful idea!
I contacted him, he also happened to have been very, very helpful. It’s a small world, we knew each other, we didn’t know in the past but all I can say is that for everyone… women, youth especially because we an older generation, please let’s all work together to make sure there’s a smooth successful plan amongst ourselves.
Agriculture and farming is the future.
Agriculture is a science.
Like somebody said, it’s a science, it’s business and in our circumstances in South Africa it’s also history.
How did you hear about Livestock Wealth and what has it been like working with them?
I had seen a programme on Livestock Wealth on television. It did not register much and then I read about it in the Sunday paper. It meant a little bit but then there was this photo where the Director of Livestock Wealth – Shezi – was in Senegal where he was inspecting a farm. So because of the farm being in Senegal it sort of hit a little bit nearer home and I thought I can call this person. So I called him, I introduced myself, only to find he was easy to talk with and he encouraged me to work with him and last year (2020), after a lot of persuasion I thought let me take him on.
It was easier than I had thought.
He was able to help us with finance, with our farm, with the animals being collateral. Since then we have been in this very, very healthy relationship as far as development is concerned, funding is concerned, mentoring, even just talking about business. I am very pleased to work with him.
Having raised some funding through Livestock Wealth investments, what were you able to do on the farm?
Been able to raise that funding I was able to improve some of the farms, get equipment that I needed. We were able to acquire a second hand tractor, fire equipment and many other things that we needed on the farm including one of the latest things that we have – we didn’t have our cattle handling facilities, loading facilities – we were able to build that and then we were also able to venture into sheep.
All of that we were able to do with the help from Livestock Wealth.