At Food for Mzansi, we know Njabula Mbokane as the “fish and chips” farmer, a label in which she takes great pride. Before she won the 2019 SAB-FarmSol Young Emerging Farmer of the Year award, she had run a fish and chips business, selling to school children at a petrol station. She is interviewed on the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast this week and says that a hunger for knowledge is essential for success.
“I am proud to be called the fish and chips farmer because for me, those are humble beginnings. It’s one of the many other business ventures that I’ve tried. I’ve sold firewood to petrol stations as well. [It’s] how I started my farming career.
“I believe in always starting with what you have and what you can use. The best things are for free!”
Mbokane’s journey from entrepreneur to agripreneur started at a public high school in Ermelo in Mpumalanga. She saw that the school had a garden space that was not being used. “I went there and I asked if I can use it and that’s how I started.“
She discovered that she had green fingers, and her garden was soon producing vegetables that people were happy to consume.
“From there, I wanted to go to greater heights. And that’s where I decided, ‘OK, if I am able to plant ten cabbages and some carrots and so forth, then it is possible for me to expand from where I am’.”
Through farming, Mbokane gets to test her planning and execution skills. This is the part of farming she loves most. “What I love about farming is me being in action, from planning to researching more about what I want to do; from [doing] what I want to do and producing whatever I want to produce. That’s what I mean by me being in action.”
Mbokane has ample advice for aspiring women farmers, but perhaps the most important advice is to “never stop learning”.
“Keep studying. Keep learning. Take every opportunity that you get that will improve your business. Take it. You will never, ever, ever, ever get enough of teachings. You will never get enough of knowledge.”
Other farmers’ podcast highlights:
The best agriculture news podcast on the planet also features other highlights for the agricultural sector this week:
- The 101 of beekeeping: Beekeeping, or apiculture, can be done as a small side hustle or a commercial enterprise. Journalist Nicole Ludolph chats to Mmabatho Morudi, who runs a bee farm in Gauteng, about how to farm with bees.
- Book of the week: Our book of the week is Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by renowned financier Peter Thiel.
- Farmer’s Tip of the Week: Our farmer tip comes from Aron Kole, FarmSol managing director.
How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track
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