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SCALES TIPPED

A pond, a passion and YouTube help Marvellous Makhado escape the clutches of unemployment in Limpopo

A pond, a passion and YouTube help Marvellous Makhado escape the clutches of unemployment in Limpopo
Marvellous Makhado sets up nets and harvests the fish he breeds in his backyard in Tshaulu village, Limpopo. (Photos: Rudhzani Tshivhase)

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.

Marvellous Makhado built a fish pond in his backyard. (Photo: Rudzani Tshivhase)

Marvellous Makhado’s pond holds about 10,000 fish. (Photo: Rudzani Tshivhase)

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.

SA’s unemployment rate rises to 32.9%, with 85,000 domestic worker and gardener jobs shed

Read more in Daily Maverick: With an SRD grant and his hands, Bergville’s self-taught car designer is building an engineering dream

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. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 

Have degree, will work: Unemployed graduate crisis takes its toll on SA’s youth

Small town, big ambitions – a glimmer of hope for Prince Albert’s lost generation

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. 

Marvellous Makhado in his vegetable garden. (Photo: Rudzani Tshivhase)

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

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