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
Tags: #agribusiness, #agriculture, #development, #farmers, #farmersupport, #farmertraining, #foodsecurity, #landreform, #zerohunger