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A Hydroponic Farming Affair

PAULINE DIKUELO
Botsile's green house project. PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Growing up in a family of farmers, Olemogile Botsile has always had plans of one day operating a large produce farm and make turnaround profit.

The nurse-cum commercial farmer is penetrating the industry through hydroponic farming. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil.

The hydroponics gardener regulates the composition of nutrients in the liquid solution used to water the plants.

Narrating his journey, Botsile said his passion for farming was instilled in him by his parents who are also farmers.

“I grew up in the village and farming was part of my lifestyle as we would always go to the lands on weekends. We would assist with anything from harvesting, milking the cows, cow branding and almost everything else,” he explained his journey.

Upon completing his tertiary  education, moving on to nursing, Botsile continued to practise farming on part time basis and then decided to start commercialising it.

“I started investing money in ploughing cabbage, green peppers, corn, rape because I noticed that there was a huge demand for these veggies,” he added.

Botsile said the market was responsive as he supplied retail outlets in Serowe like Spar, Choppies and street vendors who were his biggest clientele. He then decided to take a break from hospital work and took unpaid leave to pursue his passion for farming.

The determined Botsile started off doing research on sharpening his farming skills, as he was not getting a return on his investment. His search landed him on hydroponics farming, which he then went on to study

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for in Durban. Upon his return, he partnered with his cousin to test his new acquired skills but the partnership soured before the tomatoes were ripe. On his own he turned their backyard into a garden.

“I learnt about different kinds of hydroponics and what stood out for me was the dash bucket one as I thought it was easy to operate, doesn’t need much irrigation and no electricity is needed as it can operate on solar panel,” he said. 

“The flow bucket system is good for tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers while the bucket on top is friendly to the leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage, rape and herbs to mention a few.” The pilot phase went well as Botsile harvested what he would get from a quarter of a hectare from the 10m-by-10m garden in his backyard.

Confident with what he was doing, he then went on to showcase his products at the annual Serowe agricultural show where he was received an award.  It was days after the show that he started receiving calls from people enquiring about his farming method. “My first client was from Palapye, she called  and came to see my garden and was impressed.

She then asked me to assist her and then more requests started flooding in,” he said. Currently, Botsile gets his machinery from South Africa but has plans to buy one from China.



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