"Training and support - the backbone of my farming business"

Purity Jakie (28) worked as a software developer for many years. Then Covid hit and, while working from home, she began to pursue her childhood passion – growing vegetables. “I found myself missing Teams meetings because I was too engrossed in selling my produce outside my house!” she says, smiling.

Giving up her job was a risk, but Purity found farming much more fulfilling. Now, she has no regrets, and although she still gets job offers, she turns them down with no hesitation.

Purity completed a Vegetable Production course at Buhle in 2022 and her enterprise, KJ Harvest in Nigel, Gauteng, is part of a partnership between Buhle and Sodexo. Before the course, her production was negligible. Now, just a year after graduation, she produces 400 bags of butternut and up to 4000 bunches of spinach monthly, which she sells to the Jo’brg and Springs Fresh Produce Markets, and has thousands of cabbage and lettuce seedlings in the ground.

She employs three people permanently, and two on a casual basis.

The support from Buhle and Sodexo has been “the backbone” of her enterprise. Sodexo provided her with funding seeds, water tanks, and a drip irrigation system, while Buhle provided the training, support and links to the market and the funding.

Buhle’s Farmer Support Officers regularly visit Purity. “They helped me to keep my long-term vision in mind, and also with details such as how to improve the spacing between my seedlings and the best fertiliser application, to improve my production.

“They’re helping me move forward.”

Purity’s spinach is making a growing profit although she struggled to sell her butternut, as the market was flooded at the time. She has since learned to grow crops based on demand, and to understand the full cycle her plants must go through before they reach the market, including harvesting and handling.

The climate challenges had a significant impact. Hail destroyed most of Purity’s butternuts at one point; she took the ruined butternuts to the market, but sold them at lower prices. In future, she plans to install shade netting to prevent such losses.

Purity’s main challenge has been the extensive periods of loadshedding, which prevented her from pumping water. Instead of feeling powerless, she used profits together with a loan from a family member, saving over time to secure alternate means to irrigate. She now uses a solar-powered pump to channel water to her tanks and reservoir.

Purity’s superpowers are in her ability to apply business skills formed at her former cooperate job to building her farming business. She applies business principles with acumen and ease, drawing on her experience to ensure her business continues to grow. This is not an indication that farming is easy, rather that she treats it as business and rolls with the punches, refusing room for failure. She enjoys great support from her family, complimenting her strong work ethic and her determination to achieve her vision. A vision that she revisits in challenging times, determined to be a success.

In her words, a successful farm is one that supports her and her child with ease.

Purity’s message for prospective farmers is to “research your crops, and their seasonality, thoroughly.

“If you’re passionate about farming, try it. The going gets tough, but your zeal will push you through!”

Follow Purity’s lead: find our more about the courses we offer and how to apply in our prospectus.


Introducing Buhle

There are many thousands of new farmers in South Africa needing skills, guidance and capital to grow a viable farming business. Buhle Farmers’ Academy is a non-profit organisation that trains, mentors and supports these new farmers.

We offer holistic courses covering all the farming and management skills these farmers need (see Programme section for more details), and trainees come from all over the country to learn at our campus near Delmas, Mpumalanga. Our farmer support offices mentor as many of our graduates as possible, and we manage several programme providing financial support to some of our most promising alumni.

Since we opened our doors in the year 2000 we have grown from strength to strength, and have now trained over 7 000 emerging farmers - half of them women and 60% of them youth - in vegetable, crops, poultry and livestock production, and mixed farming. Even better, about 14 000 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 and support 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, while ensuring food security.

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 coaching and support 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, now Bayer, 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, focusing 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 500 in 2018, and we have now trained over 6 000 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.


Our Partners

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