It’s FarmSol Friday, good people of Mzansi! This week, we travel to the Free State to meet farming brothers Gift and Molefi Nyambose. They are participating in the FarmSol Youth Ambassador programme. Through the FarmSol farmer development programme, they have managing to take their farming enterprise to new levels.
Their father, Samuel Nyambose, has been farming with maize in the Free State since 1995. Today, his sons, Gift and Molefi Nyambose, are proudly following in his footsteps, leasing a 180ha farm in Kaallaagte outside Bethlehem.
“I worked for an agricultural chemicals company making dolomitic fertiliser, but lost my position there,” explains Gift about his decision to venture into agriculture. “It was then that I decided to go into farming with my brother, Molefi. We are following the example of our father.”
The farming brothers are a mean team.
“Although we have very different temperaments – me being the patient one, and Molefi a bit short-tempered – we have the same goals in life, so we seldom fight. We balance one another and in that way things are done quickly, but without taking too much risk. We want to be successful and continue the legacy of our father.”
The Nyambose brothers managed to secure a lease agreement on the Oukraal farm in Kaallaagte, not far from where their father is farming. This was in 2019, the same year they were introduced to FarmSol, a leading farmer development programme.
Learning from past mistakes
“We got an interest-free production loan from FarmSol which enabled us to plant 50ha of sunflowers,” Gift says.
Unfortunately, the sunflower project did not go well, but that did not stop them from embracing further opportunities in agriculture.
“We did not make use of the mechanisation option from FarmSol, thinking we would rather save the money and borrow equipment from my dad. This resulted in us having to wait for tractors and implements, and subsequently we planted too late. This led to the crop being exposed to frost as the winter months set in. We only managed a yield of 0.5 tonnes per hectare.”
THE LESSON? “Do not over-think it. If you want something, just go for it and work very hard!”
In 2020, the Nyambose brothers again teamed up with FarmSol, this time to plant 92ha of non-GMO yellow maize on contract to South African Breweries.
“We learned from our mistakes, and made an effort to secure the correct equipment for planting in November. We bought two second hand tractors and borrowed a planter to save on mechanisation costs.”
Again, there were challenges with equipment reliability and too much rain, which prevented them from entering the fields at critical times. Despite this, the brothers are positive about the crop.
Looking to the future
Their FarmSol extension officer, Barry Nel, confirms this.
“Oukraal is a good farm in an area that receives between 600mm and 650mm rainfall per annum. Soil depth of between 400mm and 450mm makes it prone to flooding, but with the correct soil preparation, it can be managed. The area has a historic yield of between 4t/ha and 4.5t/ha. Break-even with maize should be at around 2.5t/ha.”
Looking to the future, the Nyambose brothers would like to increase the yield on the farm.
They believe this is possible through further studies in grain production and with the continuing support of their mentor. “We can also improve our yield if we use more modern and reliable equipment,” Gift says.
In this regard, the brothers are looking at purchasing a newer tractor.
They will continue to lease Oukraal for now. “We want to purchase Oukraal, but we first need to get the yield up and also invest in mechanisation. We will purchase once we are in the right financial position,” Gift says.
Access to finance remains the most pressing challenge the two brothers face in their business at the moment. “We are still working on building a credit profile with the banks, so at this stage it is very difficult to get finance for production inputs, equipment or land,” Gift explains.
To date, the most important advice he ever received came from his late uncle, Simon Motsima, who told him, “Do not over-think it. If you want something, just go for it and work very hard!”