Mbangiswa Robert Kheswa (33) is a tractor operator at Middenspruit Farm in Kroonstad in the Free State. He operates the machinery to plough, plant seeds, spray and harvest crops on the farm.
I promise you, it’s not like driving a car or a bakkie and Khwesa has been doing it since the age of 17. Day to day, he discusses his work schedules with the farm’s manager who is also his father and mentor. Daily duties include running equipment and machinery checks, ploughing fields, doing the offset and sowing seeds.
To qualify and build your skills in this job you can take a number of training courses offered at agricultural companies like John Deere, Case or Grain South Africa. Kheswa believes the best way to learn is through practical experience.
This is another exciting career being featured on our AgriSETA Learner Connect campaign. Presented in partnership with Food For Mzansi and 19 different radio stations we’re exploring the diverse career options in the agricultural sector every single day.
Okay, now it’s over to Mbangiswa Robert Kheswa, a tractor operator at Middenspruit Farm:
1Could you sum up your job for us? I’m a tractor driver at our farm. I operate machinery used to plough fields, plant seeds and spray and harvest crops.
2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? My day-to-day tasks include discussing work schedules with the farm manager who is my father and our mentor. I carrying out equipment and machinery checks, plough fields, do the offset and sow seeds. I spray crops with fertiliser and pesticides and herbicides, harvest grain and transport it to the silo with the tractor and use baling machines to bind crops and hay ready for storage. I also maintain hedges and roadside verges with tractor cutting attachments, carrying out basic maintenance and repairs.
What qualification do you need for this career? One could do a level two award in tractor driving and related occupations course at any agricultural college. The most important thing is doing it practically on the farm, then you’ll be the best tractor driver.
4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? You need mechanical skills, stress management skills and you must be independent, courteous, honest, alert and fit.
5What subjects do I need to become a tractor operator? Commercial tractor operators require a valid driving licence.
6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? My father is an agricultural contractor so I grew up around farming and agriculture. I got my tractor licence at 17 and joined the family business drawing silage during our summer holidays with my older brothers.
A farmer’s work is never done and there are no set hours, you don’t clock in at 8 am and out at 5 pm. You start first thing in the morning and you finish when the last job is done at night. There are very few jobs that has this work culture. That is why I love working in agriculture.
7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? I find after a day setting and ploughing or even a day fencing it is very rewarding as you see the improvements you are making to your farm. It’s a very satisfying feeling.
8What do you do when you’re not at work? I like the outdoors. I’m a farm boy so we will braai and chill on the farm.
9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? Be focused and go for every dream that they wish to follow. In agriculture it’s a long term goal so you must be patient and have a big heart and work hard.
10Where can I study to become managing director of a tractor operator? They can attend the tractor operator course at Dicla Training and Projects. It is presented in two phases, the first phase is theory and the second is practical, the duration of the course is two weeks. After the courses the members are issued with a certificate (tractor operator) from Dicla, being accredited by AgriSETA.
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