Xoli reflects on the power of excellent marketing

Buhle farmer Nomxoliswa Makhabane (35) is ensuring that her organic farming business is a strong success.

Not only does she put in the hard legwork of farming, continually expanding her farming ventures; she also understands the importance of powerful marketing.

Xoli, as she is known for short, sells her spinach with a label she designed herself, to local retail stores including Pick ‘n Pay in Delmas, Mpumalanga. She produced her logo, shown on her label, while developing a business plan during her Vegetable Production course at Buhle in 2021.

“Think of your values and what your message is, then send that message out to the work in the form of a graphic,” she advises other new farmers. “You can express your message so much clearly than anyone else. And doing it yourself makes it fun!

“My logo is associated with everything I produce and motivates people to support my enterprise.”

The two feathers in her logo represent the importance of sharing ideas and how communication has advanced, reminding us how, centuries ago, writing was only possible using a quill pen, although we now use technology to convey our messages.

Her business, InkosazanaGro, produces spinach, chillies, baby marrows, baby and large tomatoes, beetroot, broccoli, butternut, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, green beans, cabbage, peppers, leeks, brown onions, pumpkin, red cabbage, red onions, lettuce and sweetcorn.

She employs six full-time employees and about 12 temporary workers as necessary – an achievement she reached just one year after she graduated from a Vegetable Production course at Buhle.

Xoli’s great positivity is having several other spin-offs: she is conducting training in the surrounding informal settlements for Reel Gardening, a company that manufactures vegetable gardening kits, on how people can grow their own food to ensure the food security of their families and community. 

She was also recently elected on to the national executive of the African Farmers Association of South Africa, which advises government on the needs of farmers on the ground.

Xoli has had to overcome several problems, including the need for a drip irrigation system – she previously watered by hand – although she still needs a pump. She also needs to find wooden poles to support the shade-netting that Buhle is providing to her, thanks to a donation of the netting from Master Plastics. 

Despite the ongoing challenges, she bubbles over with an infectious enthusiasm when she talks about agriculture. “You should be prepared for some legwork,” she says to aspirant farmers, “but if you love farming as I do, don’t hesitate. Just go for it!” 

Xoli graduated from our Vegetable Production course in November 2021 , then began farming on land at a community centre in Delmas, Mpumalanga, where there was a vacant tunnel. 

Farming is a multi-faceted career, requiring the willingness to gain many new areas of expertise: Xoli is now working to ensure that her production complies with GAP certification. This will enable her to extend her sales by suppling outlets that require the standards of production required for exports.

Elvis Nkosi, the Fresh Produce Manger at the Delmas Pick ‘n Pay, observes that Xoli’s spinach is of such a high quality that it flies off the shelves. “She is also very reliable, and always delivers on time,” he notes.

“We like to support emerging farmers by buying their produce.” 

Xoli sees farming as the culmination of her vision for a full life.  “Plants were given to people by God to give us life and livelihoods. There is a reason that each of us is here on earth and, to put it in a simple way, my calling is to help others be the best versions of themselves. Farming brings together my psychological insights, my interest in food, and my interest in the reason for being alive.

“It’s a way to give back to society. And if you want to understand and get closer to God, this is the best way.”



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