Bayanda pays it forward, mentoring 80 others

Bayanda Maseko (30) was trained as part of a partnership between Sasol, who funded training and mentorship for a group of students, and Buhle, who provided it.

“The training changed my life,” says Bayanda. “It attuned me to building a business with much more understanding and professionalism, and challenged me to achieve.” Bayanda (30) is hard-working, highly entrepreneurial and has an extremely positive attitude: he never gives up in the face of challenges and develops his farm ceaselessly.

He is supporting his family of six through his chicken, crop and livestock farming enterprise and has benefited so much through our training and support programme that he is paying it forward by mentoring about 80 other developing farmers, in groups of 10 on WhatsApp, who are also free to call him at any time. “The love and passion of the young people I know for farming will contribute to the future of our country,” he says. “It’s so amazing to transfer knowledge to them, and change their lives in turn. This is my passion.”

After his mother Noliqua passed away in 2020, Bayanda and his wife Grace took on Noliqua’s farm in Balfour, Mpumalanga, which the family had been leasing from the government. He attended a Buhle course in Crop Production in 2021 and is now producing 40ha of maize, 1ha of onions and cabbage, 25 cattle, and this year introduced 18 sheep to his farm. Poultry is another opportunity: Bayanda is developing the capacity to house 10 000 chickens, from 6200 at the beginning of the 2023, and plans to start a chicken abbattoir on his farm soon, so that members of the surrounding community can come to buy the freshly slaughtered chickens they prefer.

Bayanda has created his own market, selling his produce informally and through social media. He uses some of his maize as feed for cattle and stores more for sale to the corporation when the price is good.

It’s not been easy. Loadshedding is a serious problem, and electricity outages can last for days in his area. At one point, he lost 2000 chickens as he could not provide them with the heat they need. He now uses a generator. Water security is also an ongoing challenge. At another point, Bayanda’s vegetable harvest was half of what he expected, and having spent his last funds on workers’ wages, he could not afford to buy the chemicals he needed. However, he learnt from these experiences, started again, and continues to grow. “People say there’s no market for emerging black farmers, but that’s a lie,” he says. “Everybody around us needs to eat – the market is huge. I have customers who come to the farm and buy to sell in town, and sometimes I deliver.”

His advice to other new farmers? “If you love farming and want it, be patient. That’s the name of the game. My mom was farming for 10 years, and was not yet at a commercial level. Start small, and grow. Farming carries a lot of risk.  Most people will fail a couple of times.

“But if you’re willing to learn, and to start again when necessary, you can build yourself up.” ENDS


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 6 000 emerging farmers - half of them women and 60% of them youth - in vegetable, crops, poultry and livestock production, and mixed farming. Even better, about 12 000 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: