Zamo tells story of Buhle's growth
2 December 2016: Our Finance and Business Director, Zamo Shongwe, tells the story of Buhle’s growth, and how we serve rural communities, at the recent agro-processing conference.
Family members Thulani Mabuza, Duma Mabuza and Mazwi Masombuka are running a thriving vegetable and crop farm in Weanan, KZN. “We now make a profit, and are employing eight permanent and nine seasonal workers. Everything we know about farming, we learnt at Buhle,” says Thulani.
Our Mission Buhle’s mission is train new and aspiring farmers from across South Africa to run farming businesses that are both profitable and sustainable. The effect is that we are helping to alleviate poverty by creating jobs in our own agricultural sector.Over the years, Buhle has developed a best-practice model that could help make a huge difference in helping to transform agriculture in South Africa. In the rural and poorest areas of our country, the biggest employers are government, agriculture and mining. Most of these employers are unlikely to radically increase their take-up of employees. Our biggest hope lies in developing a culture of entrepreneurship, and agriculture is one of the key sectors for doing so. Universities and training colleges are expensive and have strict academic entrance criteria, which many aspiring farmers cannot fulfil. They need accessible, practical training with the follow-up mentorship and coaching that enables them to overcome the myriad, unpredictable challenges of agriculture. Buhle fulfils these needs.
Our History In the years after 1994 – when South Africa became a democracy – our newspapers were peppered with stories of how farming ventures fail after being handed over to black farmers. It became clear that transferring land was simply not enough. Emerging farmers also needed farming skills and ongoing mentorship.A group of concerned citizens with agricultural expertise decided to address this problem. In the year 2000, they got together to form the Food Health Hope Foundation and, under its auspices, Buhle – meaning “It is good” – was established. Our founding partner was Monsanto, who donated to us the fertile land that became our training farm and gave us the start-up capital we needed. We developed our first curriculum in conjunction with Tshwane University of Technology, focussing on vegetable production as it has a short production cycle. Two years later, we added poultry, livestock and crop production courses. In 2004, we registered the Buhle Farmers’ Academy as an NPO in order to continue our fundraising efforts. We have grown from strength to strength over the years. From our first cohort of 57 students in the year 2000, we trained over 517 in 2015, and we have now trained well over 4000 farmers over the years. Our heartfelt thanks go to every one of our funding partners. With your backing and partnership, we are indeed fulfilling our mission: to transform dreams into reality for many thousands of aspiring farmers.
Buhle has developed a best-practice model for training aspiring farmers, which includes:
Our PeopleOur staff are the people who make it all happen, and behind us is the highest authority of our organisation, the Board of Trustees of the Food Health Hope Foundation. The Board oversees our vision, mission and activities. Motivated entirely by their sense of philanthropy, they donate their time, knowledge, experience and prestige to help grow and guide the Buhle Farmers’ Academy. A picture of our staff on each campus is below, and underneath that is a list of our board of trustees.
Our heartfelt thanks go to every one of our partners, who make our work possible: