Alwin Makhale, who has been recognised for his moringa farming, believes that his passion for working the land is a calling from God, and it has taught him many lessons of humility and patience. Makhale told Vutivi News that he worked for 14 months for Anglo American in Rustenburg before resigning.
“In 2014, my parents came to me and showed me a moringa seed. They asked me to do research because they were told that it is a miracle plant,” he said. He learned that moringa grew in some Asian countries and the northern parts of South Africa. It became very popular in the country as research on its benefits intensified in the early 2000s.
Moringa contains a significant source of vitamins A, B, C, K, and protein. It is used to combat malnutrition especially in infants and nursing mothers. Makhale said that when he started AA Moringa in 2014, he had 400 moringa trees, which he grew in his parents’ backyard in Thohoyandou in Limpopo.
“It was very challenging for the first three years, as we learned a lot about growing moringa through trial and error,” he explained. “I was lucky to have been working with people who have been working on farming projects for decades and had the type of knowledge one couldn’t get in school.” Later he was able to buy a farm and grew from 400 trees to 11,000 over three years.
Makhale started his operations with a small amount of money that he saved while working. However, funding from the National Youth Development Agency and the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Department also helped him.
After that, he started farming lemongrass in 2017 and hibiscus this year. “From the moringa and the herbs we produce a variety of products which include moringa powder, capsules, moringa teabags which come in three flavours namely moringa and lemongrass, moringa and ginger, plain moringa and moringa artemisia,” he said.
“We also produce moringa instant porridge and moringa tissue oil,” Makhale said that farming not only fulfilled a desire for purpose, but it also earned him accolades. “In 2018 I was the Farmer of the Year in our district municipality, and I have been called to teach the youth about moringa farming and entrepreneurship,” he said. “I also teach people who have moringa plants about how to use moringa and how to reap its benefits.”
Makhale also noted that he learned patience and humility. “I learned a lot from working and being exposed to many people because this has given me an appreciation of others and of what they can teach me,” he said.