This is a pure case of entrepreneurial history repeating itself. That’s exactly what you learn when in conversation with Free State farmer, Petrus Ranko Tsotetsi. When his father became a mechanic, he followed suit. Then, his father started farming and of course he did the very same.
Today, on a farm he inherited from his idol and father, Tsotetsi produces soyabeans, maize and cattle on an award-winning scale.
This second-generation farmer features in this week’s episode of Vir die liefde van die land (For the love of the land). The ten-part television show celebrates South Africa’s unsung heroes of agriculture. It is in full swing on VIA, DStv channel 147 and is quite unlike any other agricultural programme you’ve seen before.
In episode four, hosts Ivor Price and Piet Potgieter take their film crew to Tsotetsi’s farm where he tells them all about his agricultural endeavours and how it started. Price is a media personality and the co-founder of Food For Mzansi and Potgieter is manager of developing agriculture at the VKB Group.
From pain to purpose
He shares how he had to take over the farm after his father’s death. His father started leasing the land in 1991 until 2002. The following year, he died in a horrific car accident. He did not get to toil the land as the rightful owner of the farm. Tsotetsi recalls this painful period in the show.
Viewers also learn about a very serious accident that took Tsotetsi from his land for an entire year.
Later on in the show, Bertus Cordier, mentor and friend to Tsotetsi, visits him on the farm. Cordier, who is also a mentor with VKB’s specialised agricultural development programme for the eastern region of the Free State, farms just 15 km away from his mentee and describes him as a very humble person.
“The relationship of a mentor and mentee cannot be based on business principles only. It will never work,” Cordier says in the episode. “You have to be friends too… My duty is to help him become a better farmer as far as I can.”
Price and Potgieter also learn more about the power of the two’s very close bond.
VKB talks financing challenges facing new farmers
Bertie Smith, executive director of financing of the VKB Group, joins this week’s episode to talk about the vulnerabilities of new farmers and the challenges they face.
“The most important challenges with the financing of new farmers are in the first place a lack of security. As we are all aware, in most cases new farmers do not own the land but rent it from the state. Consequently, they cannot present the land as security with the bank,” Smith explains.
The episode featuring Petrus Tsotetsi and Bertus Cordier broadcasts tonight at 18:30 on VIA, DStv channel 147 with further repeats on Sundays at 18:00.