Jubilation about sugar cane!
A dense bush of sugar cane wherever you look! That was the picture; we got during a recent visit to a farm run by the Umtombo Wemphilo Farmers Association in Swaziland.
The 52 members of the association chaired by Sikelela Mkhatshwa was founded in 1987 and after a long uphill struggle the association finally got their Growers Certificate in 1992. It was only last year that the Association was able to install the appropriate infrastructure to start farming. Aaron Matfondsi, Supervisor of the farm, said the SIDC Bank and Nedbank provided financing, while SKPE acted as a facilitator.
The Floppy Sprinkler Riser system was installed on an area of 63.4 Ha’s while the farm was divided into 19 blocks. Due to a lack of knowledge and pressure to start cultivating a revenue-generating-crop, planting of the N23 variety started during the winter of May 2003.
During December the Association also had a run-in with some bad lack. Lighting struck the water pump making it impossible to irrigate. Furthermore the extreme heat and drought had a detrimental effect on the sugar cane which looked worse with each passing day. However the determination of the Umtombo Wemphilo Farmers Association prevailed and once again the cane is looking very promising. Aaron confirms that besides the weather and imposed water restrictions they have experienced no problems with the Floppy Sprinkler system.
The Association is very positive about the Floppy System and Lennard confirms, “The way it is, is very good! We are very happy because we have no maintenance on the system. We use only 2 irrigation workers, 2 pump attendants, 1 supervisor and 1 clerk to operate the farm.” Jeremiah Mdwandwe secretary of the Association adds, “The electricity and labour savings are big, we also use a lot less water than other systems. I pay our bills and I can promise you these savings are big.” Furthermore Jeremiah also says that he is very impressed with Floppy Sprinkler’s after sales care. He comments on Peter Kubheka’s support, Floppy Sprinkler’s Swaziland Sales representative and says the he “makes us more than the word happy!”
Fertilizers were applied by hand but by the next season the Association says that they are aiming to use fertilizer tanks. According to Aaron they are working hard and doing their best to have a good farming operation. He says that their financiers have trust in them and that they have to live up to that trust. According to him, “It only takes one man with a vision, Floppy Sprinkler has helped us realise that vision.”
The Association is looking forward to harvesting a good yield during October of this year. They are even more confident that with training provided by Floppy Sprinkler they will be even greater success next year.
Aaron, Supervisor, gives and indication