"Our farm is thriving"

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.

Introducing Buhle

There are many thousands of aspiring farmers in South Africa who have access to arable land but don't have the skills they need to farm it. This problem must be urgently addressed, if we are to ensure the food security of people in the rural areas. The Buhle Farmers’ Academy is a non-profit organisation that trains and mentors aspiring farmers from across South Africa. We offer holistic courses covering a broad range of topics, from the theory of farming to hands-on practical skills, and farm management. Trainees come from all over the country to learn at our two campuses, one of which is near Delmas, Mpumalanga, and the second, which opened in 2016, at Mkhondo (Piet Retief), KwaZulu-Natal. In our 16 years of operation we have grown from strength to strength, and have now trained well over 4 000 emerging farmers – half of them women and 65% of them youth - in vegetable, crops, livestock and mixed farming. Even better, about 8 000 jobs have been created due to Buhle, based on the assumption that for every new farmer established at least one additional job is created.

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.

Our Approach

Buhle has developed a best-practice model for training aspiring farmers, which includes:

  • A sound theoretical knowledge base in agricultural technology
  • Competency based practical skills training
  • Training in farm business management
  • Training in appropriate life skills
  • Effective follow-up and support services.
 

Our People

Our 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.   buhle-staff-2015

Our Partners

Our heartfelt thanks go to every one of our partners, who make our work possible: