It started with a few seeds that he sowed in his backyard. Now, years later, Ndivhuho Nengwenani is supplying produce to major supermarkets and markets in his area – all still grown in the very same 1-hectare backyard plot.
Nengwenani says that coming from the deep rural village of Vondo in the Vhembe district in Limpopo did not deter him from making a name for himself.
Through backyard farming, he supplies serrano chilli peppers to Spar supermarkets in Thohoyandou and the City Deep and Springs fresh produce markets.
What’s more is that he has recently added tomato and cabbage to his supply basket.
“After I graduated and could not find a job at what I studied, which is Media Studies, I got a temporary job at one of the retail outlets,” he recalls. “I then decided to save money so that I can get back to farming as it was something I did from an early age.”
In 2019 he planted 10 000 chilli peppers, with no idea of how he was going to sell them, who were going to be his customers or how he was going to take his produce to the market.
Nengwenani says the journey was not easy but through the support of his family and dedication to his farming business he soldiered on.
“Finding customers was a big challenge until my little brother helped me find markets by introducing me to customers that I could see too. Even the capital of kickstarting the business was a challenge, but my family stood by me and bought me the seeds and equipment that I needed,” he says.
Looking to the future
Although his backyard plot has served him well, he hopes that whenever he starts getting more clients, he will get a piece of land and have his own farm.
“I have big dreams and I am very ambitious. I want to have my own farm, supply my produce abroad and open my own fruit and vegetables market store,” he says.
Nengwenani urges young people to close ranks and work together to form cooperatives to address poverty and inequality that continue to create a huge gap between the people of the country.
He fervently believes that soon his farm will be one of the biggest sources of employment in his area. For now, he calls on other young people to help during harvesting, with payment for their services in return.
He says more still needs to be done by all stakeholders to improve the devastating unemployment figures. He urges other young people to start investing their time and energy in farming and to stop looking for handouts from government and business people.
“Young people who want to start farming must dedicate their time to hard work as nothing comes easy in life. Farming needs patience as money does not come easily.
“They must go the extra mile and put all their efforts into achieving their goals. It is not easy; as young people we are facing the greatest challenge of unemployment in this era,” he says.
Nengwenani says the sector that he is into comes with a lot of learning on a daily basis and he continues experiencing and being exposed to a lot of new things that are building him to be a good farmer over the years.
He dedicates the success he has achieved to his wife, Lutendo who has stood by him from day one. He says that he is grateful to have someone who understood that the road to success was not easy or short.
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