A pond, a passion and YouTube help Marvellous Makhado escape the clutches of unemployment in Limpopo
When Marvellous Makhado was forced to abandon his dream of becoming a boilermaker and electrical engineer, he turned to a passion he’d always had – and YouTube – to forge a brand-new career.
Unable to find a job in those trades, despite his training, the 30-year-old from Tshaulu village outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo has reinvented himself as a small-scale fish and crop farmer.
Makhado said when he was young he used to collect baby fish from the Luvuvhu River and nurture them in a water-filled ditch he dug at his home.
“I have always had a passion for fish farming,” he said.
“I grow fish and sell them to customers. I cultivate small fish from the nearby Luvuvhu River and grow them in the makeshift pond in my backyard. I never thought it could earn me a living.”
He said that in March he had about 10,000 fish in his pond. He sells them for R20 each, which has generated more than a basic living wage.
In his village, unemployed young people linger on the streets, abusing alcohol and drugs.
According to Stats SA statistics, 43.4% of people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed. This is a serious cause for concern given that this age range makes up more than half of the country’s employable workforce.
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In 2012, Makhado studied electrical engineering at Germiston Further Education and Training College.
“In 2017 after spending five years marketing [myself] without luck, I then went to Mpumalanga province where I studied boilermaking for a year,” he said. Still unable to find work, he decided to farm, but not only fish.
“I am also a crop farmer. I have 1,500 cabbages in my backyard garden. I studied aquaponics from YouTube; it entails recycling water from the fish pond to water the crops as well, “ said Makhado.
Now his dream is to be a commercial farmer, but he lacks funding.
“I will be happy if someone can come forward to help me to acquire things like land for vegetable and fish farming. Now it’s tough at home because my mother works as a cleaner and I need to help her. I have six siblings,” said Makhado.
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He uses water from a borehole in his yard to water his garden and fill the pond.
In March, an official from Agriculture and Young, an organisation that encourages young people to participate in farming, paid Makhado a visit. The official posted a tweet about Makhado’s plight and since then he has acquired more customers.
My name is Marvellous Makhado (31) from Venda in Limpopo, SA. I have a 10 by 5-meter pond with more than 10,000 tilapia #fish, which I started in 2018. I am veg #farming.
Contact me at 064 687 7683.#agriculture #agribusiness #fishfarming #GoodFriday2023 Moonchild Melita #NOTA pic.twitter.com/WQQssydgda
— Agriculture and Young (@Agric_young) April 8, 2023
Support for young farmers
Jethro Nowata, the chief director of the Agriculture Development and Farmer Support programme in Limpopo’s department of agriculture and rural development, said the programme helps young people like Makhado who want to be commercial farmers.
“We are going to advertise it on radios and newspapers for young people to apply and indicate the kind of help they need related to agriculture. We are able to assist with things like the technical know-how of farming, infrastructure such as boreholes and feed,” said Nowata. DM