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.
ENDSTags: #agriculture, #agripreneur, #farmersupport, #farmertraining, #farming, #foodsecurity, #jobcreation, #landreform, #womanfarmer