This 21-year-old ploughed her way to becoming a green pepper expert
Love stories often make for riveting tales. Mahlatse Matlakana’s journey of courage, sacrifice, and passion is one epic romance with an unexpected source of affection – green peppers. At the age of 15, Matlakana supported her family by working on farms in Arrie Village, Limpopo. What she didn’t know was that this act of survival would lead to her owning her own business before she turned 21.
At the end of matric, Matlakana was accepted to study Law. Standing at the crossroads of financial stability and spirited desire to further her learning, she decided to take a gap year to gain clarity. During this time, Matlakana farmed green peppers. Being a woman in this industry was a challenge. “A lot of people didn’t believe in me because I’m young and a female,” she says. But accumulating an income and abundant harvest pushed her. Without further hesitation, Matlakana turned down her university offer, rented one hectare of land, and bought more seeds. Seeing the ardour with which she approached her work, Matlakana’s community and businesses countrywide rallied in support. Today, her peppers are the talk of the town.
“I love the feeling I get when I harvest, when the plants look healthy, when the quality is beautiful,” Matlakana says. She now rents eight hectares of land, employs four people, and distributes the fruit nationally. The teenager that ploughed her family out of poverty has grown into an agriculture expert. Committed to uplifting others like her, the 21-year-old hopes to establish a college that offers specialist training in farming for young girls like her. This path has been filled with hurdles. But every time Matlakana holds a perfectly ripe green pepper in her hands, she knows this is a love story worth telling.