Mzansi’s agricultural sector is the gift that keeps on giving, Mpumalanga farmer ‘TikTok farmer’ Njabulo Mabaso (27) believes.
With just seven months experience in farming a two-hectare patch of land in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, he has taken the TikTok world by storm with his pearls of farming wisdom garnering the attention of 10 000 followers.
After his career at community radio station Izwi Lomzansi came to an end due to the disruption caused by 2020’s Covid-19 lockdowns, Mabaso took to the land and Tik Tok to find his comfort.
His daily videos include advice on the craft of vegetable farming, personal insights and an insider view into the life and times of the South African starter farmer.
The viral TikTok farmer currently farms with crops of spinach, pumpkin, cabbages, and chillies.
He is not entirely new to the sector, though. Mabaso’s late parents, Wilson and Smangele, were also farmers.
“If you love working the land, agriculture is an easy sector to get into. I have some background in farming that I learned back home. We used to farm, and I learned some knowledge and skills when I was a young boy growing up.”
We caught up with the viral TikToker who has more than 120 000 likes on the popular app.
Noluthando Ngcakani: We have seen farmers take to Twitter to share their advice and insights, and “farmer Instagram” always has us in our feels. Now you go and hit us with a curveball and go viral on Tik Tok for your farming advice. How did your TikTok farmer journey begin?
Njabulo Mabaso: I started my TikTok profile back in 2018 when I was still studying, but I was not using it. Then I started using it recently. I started posting every day about two months back.
You know what it means to go viral for something that you yourself have been looking for on TikTok? I could not find it, then I decide to help others. I thought maybe someone out there was also looking for what I was looking for. I figured, let me post the knowledge that I have learned about the land in my own journey.
What are some of your favourite videos you have shared with your followers?
I love teaching other farmers about marketing and farming. The one that started it all is my first video where I advised aspiring farmers to “buy low and sell high.” That is what made me popular on Tik Tok. I also gave advice on diversification of crops.
Has your journey in agriculture been fruitful so far?
Eish, can you even farm without challenges?
Challenges are there every day, but they are part of life. I have learned that you can always overcome instability in the sector, just start small.
Do you have any advice for aspiring farmers?
If you want to start something new or start farming, just start. I have noticed that people have a fear, they are scared to start. You are not competing against anybody; you are competing against time.
When you overcome fear, get up and just start. It is possible. Fear will always be there. Let us say you are now 24, that fear will follow you until you are 74. Overcome that voice in your head and just start.
TikTok farmer Njabulo’s top five tips to “just start” your farming business:
- Education is key: In agriculture you cannot start without learning anything. You need to learn the skill before you can fly, you cannot just pick up any pack of fertiliser and throw it on your crops. Certain crops work well with different types of fertiliser. You cannot just spray pesticides too; you need to learn what pieces of the puzzle go hand in hand.
- Be disciplined in your craft: You cannot just call yourself a farmer when you work Monday and on Tuesday you are relaxed. Set your days and follow them, set your rules, and follow them.
- Network: Speak to people who plant the same things that you do. When you encounter problems, you can ask them how you can work through a challenge.
- Love what you are building: Let’s say I plant one tree, the love I will show that one tree I plant, must be equally shared for 1000 trees that I plant later. Treat one thing equally to 1000 things you put in the ground. If you do not have love or passion in what you are doing it means nothing.
- Value the power of time: Be consistent in the amount of hours you put in on your farm and also be consistent in your delivery of produce.