For crop and cattle farmer Minenhle Mthiyane from Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, farming has never been his backup plan.
The 24-year-old says that making a life for himself in the agriculture sector has always been his first choice.
“I grew up in a family of farmers and watching them farm especially my grandmother really inspired me to become a farmer one day. I knew there and then that there is nothing else in the world that I would rather do than farming,” he says,
Mthiyane pondered on his dream for a number of years until he decided to pursue farming in 2020.
“I decided that I want to start farming around March [of that year]. I didn’t even have land. So, I went out and sourced land. Fortunately, I was able to lease land from Mr Wilson Shabalala from Dundee. I bought inputs, seedlings, and manure and starting planting,” he says.
Around April he realised that he needed a tractor and approached the local municipality to ask for one.
“I spoke to the manager, and they helped me. I was not even in the pipeline of people that were supposed to be getting tractors, but they came to my farm and gave me a tractor,” Mthiyane exclaims.
He says he started planting maize and cabbages on a small portion of the 232 hectares of land using his own money.
“It was a very hard journey, and it still is, I won’t lie.”
“I have got people that work for me, and I don’t even have a proper irrigation system yet. So, I have to water my crops manually, I also struggle to produce quality crops because of that. I have even suffered huge crops losses, but I’ve never lost hope because I have learnt from my mistakes and I believe I can do better,” says Mthiyane.
Since he has started farming, he has harvested 23ha of maize which he supplied to a farming company called Sharp Sharp in Dundee.
Mthiyane also had a stint as a commercial reseller of goats during the May and June 2020 Covid-19 peak. But he decided to take a break from it to focus on his farming business full-time.
Since then, Mthiyane has been focusing on his crops and cattle. He tries to perfect his farming craft because he wants to reach a commercial level one day.
“I want to export my crops to global markets because it has always been a dream of mine,” he says.
He shares that giving up is not an option, because he is passionate about farming. “I love farming because I grew up in a home filled with farmers. My family members were crop farmers, cattle farmers and even sheep farmers, which is why I ventured into farming.”
Mthiyane says he was inspired by his grandmother, Beslina Qwabe the most, because she used farming to create an income and support her whole family.
“I saw how my granny used to love farming and I saw how she used to love planting. We grew up in a home where my grandmother used to plant maize, potatoes and cabbages to support us, so I actually got inspired by her. She raised my mother through farming and that inspired me too.”
He says that his grandmother passed away on the 30th of March 2017 at the age of 79, yet she was still farming. “Watching her motivated me to stand on my own and start a farming brand of my own,” Mthiyane explains.
Minenhle Mthiyane shares three tips on how to start farming from scratch:
- Do the homework: “You need to do the necessary research about the type of farming you want to venture into.”
- Put your skin in the game: “Having your own funding is also necessary because I don’t think it is wise to wait for funding. Investors must find you working so that they can know what they are investing in.”
- Do you have the drive?: “Lastly, I think it’s very wise that one has a passion for farming.”