“Farming might seem sexy, but it’s a difficult profession to be in,” says 32-year-old Mbali Nwoko, a born and bred city girl turned vegetable farmer. Nwoko started farming in Johannesburg four years ago and she’s never looked back.
In an interview with Food For Mzansi’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, Nwoko says she’s grown tremendously since she registered her company, Green Terrace, in 2016. The dynamic farmer has also bagged a number of awards including the 2018 Agricultural Writers SA new entrant into commercial farmer of the year award for Gauteng and she was voted one of the Top 100 Women Changing South Africa by the Mail and Guardian.
Nwoko says receiving these accolades is validation that she’s come a long way in the agricultural industry. Despite feeling like she hasn’t yet reached her full potential the urban farmer says, “being recognised in a number of categories where farmers typically wouldn’t be seen is humbling and serves as reminder I deserve a pat on the back”.
The vegetable farmer strongly advocates that consumers must protect the industry that feeds them. “When people talk about farming, they talk about farming with minimal understanding of the challenges, opportunities and value that it plays in a number of industries in South Africa. Now that we are living in covid-19 times, it’s become quite evident how many families and communities are vulnerable because they do not have food – and most importantly access to basic nutritional food, like fruit and vegetables”.
In the podcast Nwoko reiterates that as a country we need to raise awareness about the role that agriculture plays in the economy, “not from a food production perspective, but from an employment creation perspective, from an ability to give dignity to a number of communities that we serve”.
Start-up Business tips
Karidas Tshintsholo, co-founder of the Khula App, connecting small-holder farmers to markets in Mzansi joins Nwoko in this week’s podcast. He talks about the ups and downs of starting a new business and that despite popular belief many small-holder farmers are quite eager to adopt new technologies into their farming practices.
We also hear from young Gauteng farmer Karabo Rampete, who refused to sit back and watch her health deteriorate after being diagnosed with a liver disease. Today, she runs a farm in Rustenburg, Gauteng, growing the indigenous vegetables that she believes saved her life. She says being featured on Food For Mzansi garnered new business developments and opportunities to grow within the sector.
Farmers’ choice for book of the week
Farmer’s Inside Track members chose Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book tells a story of a boy with two fathers, one rich, one poor, to help readers develop the mindset and financial knowledge to build a life of wealth and freedom.