Mpophomeni Farmer's Market

Boston Road & Mandela Avenue
Mpophomeni, KwaZulu-Natal
Mpophomeni Farmer's Market Logo


The sweet side of farming with Sis'Thembi

The sweet side of farming with Sis'Thembi

11 October 2018 by Thembelani Mkhize

They often say that dirty hands make clean money. That seems to be the case for the people of Kwaswayimane just outside Wartburg Kwa-Zulu Natal. As soon you enter the valley you are greeted by a picturesque view of the mountains and the variety of plant life. The air is fresh, and the open space encourages a clean breeze throughout the whole valley.

This is where Sis’Thembi Zondi Ngobese decided to start her journey in agriculture. She started working as a teacher in 1982 at Vuka primary school in the Swayimane area where she met her Husband who shared an interesting dream with her. He had acquired a vast amount of land and wanted to use it for farming when they retire from teaching. Unfortunately, her Husband passed away and left the dream to her and after she retired in 2017 she continued their dream of farming on the land which they had acquired.

Throughout the years Sis’Thembi’s relationship with the locals from the Swayimane area has only gotten stronger which allows her to conduct business in a comfortable environment with people she knows almost like family. “ I have known most of these people since I started teaching back in 82, they’ve been planting and growing their own food for as long as I can remember and working with them is always a pleasure” she said. Since most of the people in the area plant sugar cane she has received a lot of help in her first 10 months of commercial farming from the locals who have vast experience in the industry in both organic and non organic methods of farming. The people from this valley made their living of the land both young and old so it only made sense to refer to them as the experts of the land and process of farming.

Surrounded by endless fields of sugar cane as far as the eye could see the area supplies a nearby Ilovo factory, another resident supplies a local spar with her sweet potatoes fresh from the garden. As soon as they saw us in my jeans and Iimbewu t-shirt and my friend Siye in a formal shirt they immediately identified us as “oSwanka” which is like calling me a city slicker because of the way we were dressed but boy were they in for a surprise (and so were we). The Job today was weed eradication on one of the sugar cane field which was about two hectares of land. I was tasked with mixing the chemical solution with water in a 250 liter container, protective gear like gloves, a face mask and boots are very important when working with these chemicals as they may cause burns of irritations on your skin. This was all done under the supervision of one of the local farmers who had been working the fields for over fifty years now.

Apart from the Sugar cane Sis’Thembi teamed up with the Mpophomeni farmers market team to plant potatoes in one of her many gardens. Together with the swaymane team they planted a little over one and a half hectares of potatoes which will be on sale at the Mpophomeni farmers market every two weeks in Mpophomeni township. The event started on the 16th of June 2018 and since the every two weeks come rain or shine you will find Sis’Thembi’s stall with a variety of fresh produce such as sweet potatoes, beans, potatoes, onions and especially her homemade “isigwaqana” which is a mixture of pap and beans blended together for a healthy and heart filling main course. Catch her stall at the next farmers market in Mpophomeni on the 20th of October 2018. 

Mpophomeni Farmer's Market
11 June 2018

Mpophomeni Farmer's Market

by Sabelo Nsele
Mpophomeni township is set to hold the first ever black farmers market. The event will be held at the Mpophomeni Tourism Gateway next Saturday, June 16 from 9 am to 3 pm.


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Mpophomeni Farmers Market started on Saturday, June 16 2018 and the very first market was held at the Mpophomeni Tourism Gateway. The market has grown into a very popular event with a great variety of food and craft stalls around. Besides the fresh produce from local farmers, there is also a kiddies area with a jumping castle and storytelling to keep the young ones busy while mom and dad browse around.

The market is now held every last Saturday of the month as well as on the weekend closest to the 15th of every month. The main aim of the market is to provide a network for small businesses and farmers in our community where they can work together and grow their businesses.


A little History on Mpophomeni Township

In 1968 the South African government built in an open field a township called Mpophomeni to relocate the black people living in the surroundings of Howick, a picturesque little town in the Natal Midlands. Mpophomeni (which means the place of the waterfall in isiZulu) derives its name from the well known Howick waterfall.

In 1985 the management of SARMCOL (South African Rubber Manufacturing Company Limited) summarily dismissed a thousand workers, many of them Mpophomeni residents, after a strike. This plunged hundreds of families into poverty.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a fight between the people of Mpophomeni and the people living in the rural areas of Kwa Shifu, Haza and Mahlangeni. The community of Mpophomeni were ANC (African National Congress)supporters and the rural areas were strongly behind the opposing IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party). The death of Nokulunga Gumede, a five-year-old girl who was run down by a military vehicle (Casper) during the violence taking place in the township at the time was a catalyst for change – no-one stopped the violence when they had the chance.

Reconciliation only truly started between the township and the rural occupants in 1993 and 1994. A memorial was built in remembrance of this and named after Nokulunga Gumede - the youngest victim of the violence as well as commemorating the 120 people that died.

There are three high schools, Mpophomeni High, Asibemunye and Umthombo as well as five primary schools namely, Sifisesihle, Zamuthule, Qhamukile, Isibongo and Nhlanhleni.

Activities include: annual dog show; Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience; Enviro-clubs; AIDS Ministry; ThinkQuest Competition; Mpophomeni Computer Centre and SchoolNet; Centre for Criminal Justice.