Tisetso leaps from “zero knowledge about farming” to a harvest of plenty

Before enrolling at Buhle, Tisetso Mkhwanazi (30) had ”zero knowledge about farming,” she admits, although her enthusiasm was resulting in intermittent sales – even during the Covid-19 lockdown – from the vegetables she grew on her small plot.

Tisetso received start-up funding for her farm in Benoni, Gauteng, in a project with our partner Sodexo. This support enabled her to install an irrigation system, hire a tractor and implements to prepare her land, buy equipment and seedlings, and pay for labour she needed.

She completed her Vegetable Production course at Buhle in 2021 and, just a year later, was about to start harvesting 100 bundles per week of mixed vegetables: white onion, Swiss chard, kale, mustard spinach and beetroot, from the one-hectare plot land she leases from her parents. She employed one permanent and three temporary workers in her farming business, called TisetsoMkhwanaziFarming.

“I was making a slight profit even before my training, so I feel positive about making a reasonable profit now,” she says. “Buhle really trained me well. My farming career really started after I finished my course, and the Buhle farmer support officer gives me a lot of guidance.”

Tisetso was previously a public relations officer but left her job, which she did not enjoy, for farming. “I love forging a career in a field that is male-dominated. Agriculture is science, and I love learning new things each day, from understanding my soil to how to plant seedlings, how to nurture the plants, the facts about the different fertilisers and different chemicals, and market research.”

Her late grandfather was a farmer, and her father became a livestock farmer sixteen years ago. “I fell in love with farming when my dad became involved, although I opted for vegetables, not livestock. I am the third generation, but the first female farmer, in my family.”

Farming needs patience, as “agriculture brings constant change,” she points out.

“Nevertheless, I want to encourage other upcoming female farmers that success really is possible. My advice is to start with the little you have. That’s what I did, and I see it working out. I would like to encourage you to do the same.

“Success really is possible, when you work hard.”


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