“I didn’t love farming before I studied at Buhle, but now I do. The peacefulness of it gives me peace of mind and, most of all, I am very happy to create jobs for other people because, in my village, unemployment is very high.
“There are few companies and no mines to create jobs; the one thing that can help people, and put bread on their tables here, is agriculture.”
Nhlanhla has six permanent employees and between 20 and 30 seasonal employees. Her farm is growing. Last year she broke even, and this year, as her expertise grows, she expects to make a profit from her production of spinach, cabbage, and butternut.
She is also a visionary. Having started out growing spinach, the next year she expanded into cabbage and butternut. Now she has rented additional land to grow beans and plans in the future to grow an apple orchard and venture into livestock.
Finding markets for her produce was Nhlanhla’s greatest initial challenge. She solved it by networking – on social media, through friends, and by consulting the Department of Agriculture – and now supplies markets including the Johannesburg market and Sabalala Food and Beverages. “To be a farmer, you have to be open-minded and love dealing with other people,” she observes.
After growing up in a mining town, Nhlanhla ran a construction company that worked for mines and other companies. Then she inherited 10ha of land in Daggakraal from her grandparents, who used to farm grain crops and vegetables.
When she was young, she used to visit her grandparent’s farm, and her grandfather would show her around. In 2019, she decided to continue their legacy and explore agriculture. She engaged with a local extension officer, which led to her selection as part of the Buhle Basic Vegetable Production course, funded by Sasol.
Nhlanhla came second in her class and won an R5000 voucher from Buhle, sponsored by Sasol, which she used to buy a 5000l water tank, as she draws water from the river near her plot. She began farming straight after she graduated from Buhle, beginning with Swiss Chard on just 1ha of her plot in early 2020. She then planted another hectare of butternut and cabbage – but had to stop farming early the next year when her funds ran dry.
After achieving a break-even point in the second year, she aspires to attain significant profitability by supplying Joburg Market, Sabalala Food and Beverages, and GNP through GiveSA Enterprise.
She achieved farm success by planting 3ha of butternut and delivering Swiss Chard to Johannesburg Fresh Market, earning the title of Queen of Swiss Chard.
Recently, she also planted 2ha of cabbage, and 3ha of peppers, and began renting 10ha on another farm to grow beans.
Nhlanhla has had several radio interviews about her business and has been featured in an article by the Department of Agriculture in Volksrust
Tags: #Africanfarmer, #agribusiness, #agriculture, #agripreneur, #farmerdevelopment, #farmersupport, #farmertraining, #zerohunger