The 23-year-old from a Limpopo village called Nzhelele says he studied agricultural studies in his matric year at Dzata Secondary School in 2015. He told his friends that he wanted to pursue agriculture as a career.
“After sharing the news, one of my friends discouraged me and told me that there are no opportunities in agriculture. So, I decided to study law instead.”
Call it fate or redirection, but a year and a half into his studies he could no longer afford to pay for his tuition and accommodation. He dropped out as a result. But, he says, not all hope was lost as his passion for agriculture was still alive.
“After leaving Pretoria, I did a lot of research about agriculture. I actually wanted to venture into chicken farming but since there were no resources for me to start [doing that], I decided to do research about crop farming,” he says.
Many of his friends who he studied agriculture with at high school were already in crop farming. He was fortunate to receive assistance from them to start his own business in 2017.
“I started farming with butternut, maize, tomatoes and sweet potatoes in my backyard, but as time went by, I got a lease agreement on a three-hectare communal farm in my community.”
Unfortunately, his lease agreement was terminated a year later. With no access to land he was forced to prioritise his drip irrigation management enterprise called Seeds of Hope Agri, which he started around the same time as his crop production business.
“My business offers segregation systems and drip irrigation operation services to farmers occupying communal land around my village,” he says.
Although his business is a success, it hasn’t always been easy.
“When I started the company, I experienced a lot of difficulties because I had a lack of resources and a lack of knowledge. I failed a lot of times but that’s where I have learnt a lot. I used to walk around many of the farms here to get some information. I also had to do the physical work and the administrative work,” he says.
Luckily for him, he had previous experience from running his own farm and managed to conduct research via YouTube and Google.
The obstacles taught him to choose farming because he loves it. “I have learnt that if you want to farm, you must not to do it for money, but do it for passion. If you farm with the intention of getting money, once you fall down you won’t get up.”
Another lesson that he has learnt is to invest in himself by acquiring knowledge and skills. That realisation led his company to the next level.
He is also currently a candidate with the Future Farmers Foundation. The foundation is a small, dedicated platform that provides opportunities to young agriculturists, so that they can become successful commercial-scale farm managers or farmers.
The foundation also initiates an apprenticeship system that places learners on farms where they gain experience, starting from the bottom and learning a large variety of skills from the most menial tasks to tractor driving, operating milking machines, control of irrigation systems, dairy herd management and leadership skills.
Budeli shares that he applied to become a candidate of the foundation in 2019 and he is currently waiting for them to place him on a farm.
He says in the next couple of years he wants to own multiple farms, and he wants to specialise in crop production and livestock farming because both crops and livestock are in demand.
Budeli’s advice to young people
- “Do not to hesitate to venture into agriculture because there are many opportunities in agriculture.”
- “If you want to farm you must not farm because you want to make money, but you must farm because you are passionate about farming.”
- “You must invest in yourselves, because the best investment is self-investment.”