MAHLATHINI
DEVELOPMENT
An Overview of the
Natal Midlands
By Temakholo Mathebula
OUR FOCUS AREAS
KwaZulu-Natal (Bergville and the
Midlands)
Limpopo:
Eastern Cape:
Weworkwithsmallholderfarmersin
Bergville,SouthernKZN,Limpopo
andtheNatalMidlandsonclimate
smartagriculturepracticesthatare
suitablefortheirfarmingsystems.
AreaswhereMDFworks:
NATAL MIDLANDS
The Midlands covers the following areas:
oOzwathini
oMayizekanye
oGobizembe
Crops commonly grown: maize, beans, amadumbe, sweet potatoes, potatoes, vegetables
Majority of participants are females between the ages of 40 and 70
Most are breadwinners in their homesteads
Over 90% have no formal employment and depend on social grants, remittances, pension and disability
grants
All are smallholder farmers who farm mainly for consumption smoothing and selling surplus
How do we provide support that speaks to the needs to
farmersbutalso drivesthemtoimprovetheircurrent
practices?
How can we improve the farming system without causing
excessivedamageto the environment?
What are the best options for water and soil conservation in
smallholder farming systems?
Is agro-ecology a viable option for long term food security?
What we have been doing:
Agro-ecology
Conservation Agriculture
Livestock Intergration
Marketing & Value Adding (in the pipeline)
CLIMATE
RESILIENT
AGRICULTURE
CLIMATE RESILIENT AGRICLTURE
LIVESTOCK INTERGRATION
Most of our farmers are also livestock farmers who have cattle, goats, pigs and poultry.
Livestock integration entails feed supplementation mainly in winter, providing a range
of supplements to make up for reduction in available pasture in winter
Growing and cutting of cover crops ( summer and winter cover crops(cut and mixed
with grass and given to cattle over winter) to reduce loss of condition
FODDER SUPPLEMENTATION
Why do farmers need to supplement ?
In some areas the grass has no nutritive value in winter - so it needs to be
supplemented. This is called sourveld. The goodness all goes back to the roots over
winter so the leaves are dry and useless. In spring the plants produce new nutritious
leaves.
Some farmers cut maize stoverfortheircattleintheeveningsbutitrunsoutbefore
winter season ends
Ingongonigrass is the most dominant and is not very palatable for cattle
Cows susceptible to CA when pregnant due to insufficient nutritious grass
Higher disease prevalence and mortality rate due to loss of body condition
FODDER
SUPPLEMENTATION CNTD
Animals that are well fed will breed properly cows
should each produce a calf every year.
Supplementation is important as it aids in providing
nutrients and energy and also improving the palatability
of hay/straws and also improves grazing.
A well fed young animal will grow faster
Wellfedanimalsarealsohealthyanimals
If animals are hungry and stressed they are more likely to
get sick,or to die ifthere are cold,wet periods.
Wellfedanimalscandoworksuchasploughing.
HOW DO FARMERS
SUPPLEMENT?
Urea provides a form of protein for ruminants
Animals can still use the dry grass if they are given a
protein supplement urea is a cheap form of
protein but only for ruminants.
The urea helps the organisms in the rumen (that
youcan’t see!) to digest the drygrass and then this
provides nutrients for the cow or goat or sheep (i.e.
the ruminant is the animal with a rumen).
SUPPLEMENTATION IN WINTER
WINTER SUPPLEMENTATION
Caution with urea
Only feed ruminants (Goats, sheep and cattle) not pigs or horses
Rememberiftheyeattoomuchitcankillthem
If it dissolves in water and animals drink the water it can poison
them
INTERGRATION
OF COVER CROPS
Winter-mastermixofBlackSiaOats,Fodder
Raddish, andFodderpeasplantedafterharvesting
ofbeans. Andmaizestalkscutandplacedin
betweentoprovidecover.
Mostcovercropsgrazedbycattleandalsoeatenby
goatsandchickens.
Fodderraddishalsoservesas agreenvegetablefor
farmers
Covernotthroughoutseasonduetoabovereasons
butplantingCCextendsperiodinwhichsoilis
covered.
LIVESTOCK INTEGRATION
Farmerscut andcarrytheircovercrops
Sunflower is a good source of protein
Sunhempimproves production of milk and quality of daily
products,
Soghurmis rich in protein, B vitamins, micro nutrients and
low in mycotoxins
Black oats, is excellent for young animals, good at
suppressing broad leaf weeds
Fodder rye, good for roughage
Japanese radish, high in energy and protein
STRIP CROPPING
Vetch and black siaoats
Maize and digiteriastrip
Lespedeza
Layout
Strip: 2,5m x 10 m.
Seeding rate 20kg/ha
thus 50g per strip
forperennials
Trialsize20mx10m
CALF REARING
Purchase of cross breed calves from
commercial dairy farms
Breeds include, Angus and friesland
crosses, Nguniand Friesland as well as
unidentified breeds
Calves are raised on artificial milk and
calf feed, then sold at six months
POULTRY
PRODUCTION