Never in his wildest dreams did Free State farmer Nkosana Mtambo imagine that one day he would get a phone call from Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
Mtambo, who has managed to turn a piece of land he received for his 21st birthday into a booming business, was driving when the call came. On the line was Didiza herself, who acknowledged his hard work in the agricultural space.
“I feel like a king! I wasn’t expecting the call, but yeah, it was a shock… I was on the farm doing rounds,” the 26-year-old Mtambo tells Food For Mzansi. He started out with only 24 cows in the town of Vrede. Today his livestock is distributed in the Free State as well as Gauteng’s Vaal Triangle.
This week, South Africa marks the beginning of Youth Month and the minister is set on recognising young movers-and-shakers. Stats SA estimates that nearly 18 million of the country’s citizens are between 18 and 34 years old. According to the International Labour Organisation the estimated youth unemployment rate was at 53% last year, although it is expected to increase due to covid-19 related turmoil.
Mtambo adds that being recognised by Didiza for his contribution towards keeping his own community safe and well-fed was an honour. As the chief executive of Mtambo Boerdery he donated R100 000 towards a covid-19 disaster relief fund, and also provides food parcels to vulnerable communities.
The monetary pledge was in response to a call by pres. Cyril Ramaphosa who asked South Africans to support the fund which was set up to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
53% of SA youth unemployed
This week, the country marks the beginning of Youth Month. Stats SA estimates that nearly 18 million citizens are between 18 and 34 years old, with at least 53% unemployed even before the covid-19 lockdown kicked in. Mtambo currently employs seven youth on his farm.
He says that Didiza invited him for a visit as soon as Mzansi reaches level 2 of its lockdown. In return, the Mtambo farming family surprised the minister earlier today with a gift sent to her office to celebrate her 55th birthday. “She sacrifices for everyone. We are sending you a little love back.”
Mtambo’s advice to other up-and-coming farmers hoping to one day also be recognised by a member of cabinet? It’s simple, he says. “Easy come, easy go. And hard work pays off. Farming is a profession of hope and if you don’t have hope, you won’t make it.”
The young farmer also thanked Food For Mzansi for their continuous support and flying the flag for the nation’s unsung heroes of agriculture. He is also excited about an upcoming article by Farmer’s Weekly about his agricultural journey.