Bonosi Rabbie Selotlegeng is not afraid to get her hands dirty. The passionate visionary is running a successful integrated farm in Gabane.
While some of her peers are comfortable with an office job, Selotlegeng prefers to spend her time tilling the land, and doing all the hard work that comes with running a fully-fledged farm.
Her integrated farm started off with Fish farming. To maintain and sustain the fish project, she looked for a project that could cushion the fish project. That one project grew into two, and then another one. She currently has three types of fish namely Tilapia, carp and catfish. She also rears indigenous birds that includes quail, guinea fowl, tswana chicken and layers. Furthermore, she plants seasonal vegetables, herbs and has an orchad (growing lemons, oranges and naartjies).
In the long term, Selotlegeng wants to supply fish monthly instead of seasonal. She is also eyeing the international market.
“I pride myself with clean water fish which I can sell without hesitation to the international markets,” she stated with confidence.
Selotlegeng explained that integrated farming is the future. For those who are toying with the idea of venturing into this type of farming, she explained that they need to pick one main project and then find the second or even third one that can help maintain the main project bearing in mind that they integrate.
“Start each project small so that you are able to learn how to manage different types of projects at the same time. Sometimes starting big projects at a time can be overwhelming and this leads to failure,” she said.
Taking the integrated farming route, she said comes with a number of benefits. For starters, it helps to maintain the bigger project which in her case is the fish project. “The other projects such as vegetables and birds sells faster than fish. Another advantage is the fact that the ecosystem is working properly within the farm,” she said.
However, Selotlegeng shared that the biggest challenge with this type of farming is that you can lose focus on the bigger/main project because the other ones will be money spinners. The more money coming in, will mean that it goes straight to the main project, and if one slacks off, they might lose focus and fail.
Meanwhile she explained that there is always something new in farming.
“We are continually learning every day be it new diseases, mortality of products, unpredictable weather conditions the list is endless but the point is to persevere,” she noted.
This year has not been a walk in the park for many with Covid-19 ravaging the world. The food activist didn’t fold her arms, counting her losses instead she used the time to take the lessons that she has learnt over the years online, sharing with those who wish to venture into a similar path via Rabbie’s World on Facebook.
“I also started using online platforms for orders and payments, and just do deliveries,” she said.
The period in lockdown also gave her time to research and learn a few things about her projects in the farm and where to improve.
Regarding the growing interest in farming by Batswana, Selotlegeng’s observation is that while the interest exists, some are not good at implementation.
“We often see so many people who like to benchmark but never take the first step after that mostly because some are what I call Facebook farmers. Farming needs passion, perseverance, courage, and money comes in later not the other way round. If you do it for the money first then you are in the wrong profession,” she advised.