Patience Makgai – from chemical engineer to farmer

Patience Makgai (30) was a chemical engineer who, when out of work for some time, decided to turn a family hobby of farming into a business.

She is now making a profit through her farming business, Pag Business Enterprise, in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, where she employs four permanent workers. She achieved this despite having received no financial support, on a two-hectare plot where she is growing 15 000 butternuts, 7000 watermelons, 30 000 heads of cabbage and half a hectare each of beetroot and tomatoes.

I use scientific thought in farming, which helps my business to [ZS1] grow – although I need to increase production to make a better living,” she says.

“For this, I need my own land, as you can’t set up permanent infrastructure on someone else’s land.”

Patience studied Vegetable Production at Buhle in 2019. She credits Buhle for the combination of business and practical stills that repositioned her production levels. “The marketing and financial modules also made a great impact. I drew up a business plan, which I’ve submitted to various government departments for support, and am awaiting feedback. Now, I supply to the local Spar, Food Lovers and the informal market.

“Farming makes me happy because although people are struggling, I am able to supply them with food. I am not far from town, so people can walk to my farm to buy produce at a better price than in the shops.”

Patience has two tunnels for spinach, and grows the rest of her produce on open fields. She will soon obtain nets from a Buhle and Master Plastics initiative to protect crops against the elements, assisting small holder farmers to stabilise production.  

“Unemployment is high, but farming enables you to create employment for yourselves and others. It’s much better than sitting around waiting for someone else to employ you.

“It may be hard work, but it’s also very interesting.”



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