Me. Maletsatsi Maria Tswai
Me. Maletsatsi Maria Tswai
Me. Maletsatsi Maria Tswai was born in 1964 in a very different South Africa. The first half of her life was shaped by the racial tensions and social upheaval of apartheid. But as she grew up, Maria found herself drawn to farming, learning from her family members and working on the land at every opportunity. Her passion for farming brought her into contact with Michael Ramohudi, an experienced farmer and businessman who helped her to discover a whole new world — one where she could make a living from the land, learning about markets and business along the way.
Maria has always worked hard and is devoted to her business. She put in effort to refine her business plan and applied for a farm from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. Her application was approved in 2017, and she was given a 30-year lease for the farm Scheerpan. While Maria already had the work ethic, knowledge and skills necessary to start a farm, she knew that she needed more help to make a success of her farming. Luckily, she found that help through the Sernick Emerging Farmers Programme , which gave her access to resources, support, and all- important training. She puts this education to work every day, tackling difficult challenges like drought management and ensuring that her animals are happy, healthy, and well-fed.
In August 2020, a veld fire spread across the south and west Free State and decimated Scheerpan along the way. Maria managed to save all of her animals from the blaze, but unfortunately her farm was severely damaged. She was for disaster relief through various organisations, and countless people came to her aid during this difficult time. Sernick was able to provide her with animal feed and licks, as well as the support, mentorship and guidance that she needed to get back on her feet and rebuild her farm.
Maria applied to join the Sernick Emerging Farmers Program late in 2017 and was accepted, and has since set herself apart as one of the programme’s exemplary female farmers, setting the bar very high for all her fellow farmers, especially for some of the men in the program. Maria is an exceptional farmer, a role model for her peers, and one of the star participants in Sernick Farms’ Emerging Farmers programme. She’s one of the first in line to help other farmers learn, and she keeps herself up-to-date on the latest developments in her field.
As a born and raised farmer, Maria knows the importance of being both hands-on and always knowing what’s going on. She has 106 productive cattle and a few other small animals to care for, which requires her to always be present on her farm. She has managed to buy herself a bakkie over the last two years, which allows her to travel around her land on-the-go, ensuring that all of her animals are healthy and safe at all times.
It came as no surprise that Maria was named the Overall Farmer of the Year and Female Farmer of the Year at Sernick’s annual award ceremony. Her commitment to excellence and innovation has earned her a reputation as one of the best farmers in the programme. She is a great example to all African farmers of what hard work and dedication can bring.