Home Entrepreneurs Agribusiness Mosele proves that pig farming can be glamorous

Mosele proves that pig farming can be glamorous

As an event and marketing expert, Mosele Lepheane brings a fresh perspective to the world of pig farming

Affectionately known as Mo, Mosele Lepheane has embraced the world of pig farming along with her husband, Takatso. Photo: Supplied

Things have never come easy for Mosele Lepheane. Perhaps that is why she often chooses to do things differently, especially after choosing to trade a career in marketing and event planning for pig farming.

Lepheane’s life and career is a tale of dogged determination and steady progress. It took her from a difficult childhood to one where she owns a Sandton-based marketing agency as well as Free State piggery.

Until about 11, Lepheane was raised by her grandparents. Later she moved to Phuthaditjhaba  (formerly QwaQwa) in the Free State where she stayed with her parents for the first time. Her father passed away three years later, says Lepheane, recalling her life with her mother. They struggled to make ends meet, and her mother later started driving school children with her own car for a monthly fee.

Mosele Lepheane breeds pigs on municipal land in the Free State. Photos: Supplied/Paul Samuels

After matriculating from Harrismith High School in 1999, Lepheane opted to study business management, events and marketing. During her first year, when her mother could no longer afford her college fees, she was forced to drop out.

Refusing to go back to QwaQwa, Lepheane stayed on in Bloemfontein and got herself a job as a waitress. “I was never happy with working at restaurants. I knew I was destined to do greater things.”

After years of gaining experience in the hospitality industry, she joined a chamber of business in Sandton. Her work ethic and attention to detail was noticed. This gave her the opportunity to manage an event despite having little experience and no qualifications.

“Prepare yourself mentally, go for training, do thorough research, choose a breed that is suitable for your area, and don’t be in a rush to make money.”

Driven by passion and a desire to be independent, Lepheane continued exploring opportunities. She started working on bigger marketing projects and events. In spite of all the glamour and excitement the career offered, she craved more. She wanted to live a meaningful life.

So, out of frustration, in 2014, Lepheane joined a short-lived women’s consortium that sought to infiltrate different industries and create jobs in specific areas. She piloted the agriculture division.

“I did research on industries that promised a quick turnaround and learned that pig farming is quite profitable compared to other livestock. I was both excited and afraid at the same time. Pigs are dirty animals and being a complete girly-girl, I wondered how I’d pull it off,” she says.

Farming passion shared by husband

After getting married in 2015, Lepheane moved to Viljoenskroon in the Free State to join her husband, Takatso, whom she had dated since high school. He was looking after his family’s livestock. “I introduced the idea of farming with pigs to him, and he immediately liked it. He attended an agriculture expo and returned as excited as I was.”

Initially, the couple had little farming experience. However, they have grown tremendously since 2015 when they started MOS M Farm with Lepheane as the CEO. Today, they jointly run a high-potential piggery with 100 pigs, supplying different abattoirs and meat distributors in the province.

“We breed our own pigs on municipal land from farrow to finish and can therefore guarantee good quality,” she says.

Lepheane’s side hustle is still a successful marketing and events company, M Squared Marketing, in Sandton, Johannesburg. It currently serves as their main source of income while the piggery continues to grow.

“My husband and I figured that while we were perfecting our skills in pig farming, we should have something that puts food on the table. So, at 32 years old I went back to school and graduated with a degree in marketing in 2017.”

It has not been an easy road for the Lepheanes. However, now that they understand the industry and the market a little better, things have picked up. Not knowing enough about pig breeding cost them a lot of money, and a few pigs too.

Mosele Lepheane’s side hustle is still a successful marketing and events company, M Squared Marketing, in Sandton, Johannesburg. Photo: Supplied

Proper infrastructure was another headache, Lepheane says. They didn’t know how to keep the pigs cool in summer or warm in winter.

“We weren’t aware that the pigs were so sensitive, and we had to dig into our own pockets to improve the infrastructure.”

She urges beginner pig farmers to learn from their mistakes.

“Prepare yourself mentally, go for training, do thorough research, choose a breed that is suitable for your area, and don’t be in a rush to make money.”

Many challenges remain, including access to land, as the space that they currently operate from is stifling their growth.

They are also struggling with abattoirs in their region not providing the necessary abattoir compliance certificates. These certificates are required for pig producers to get contracts. Also, their farm has fallen prey to thieves.

Lepheane, however, remains positive.

“We are currently consulting with the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO) and they are busy assisting us with changing our breeding type. They are also keeping us up to date with new trends in the market.”

Lepheane considers herself blessed to be farming. And the future is looking brighter than ever before. “We are in the processes of finalising a contract with a meat distributor in Gauteng, and we hope to increase our footprint.”

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