Building a farming empire is no easy feat, but when you’re driven by passion, like Eric Mauwane is, no field will be left untilled. Mauwane successfully operates a family farming business in Tarlton, north west of Krugersdorp in the Gauteng Province.
In this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, Mauwane joins Food For Mzansi’s co-founder Ivor Price and editor Dawn Noemdoe to talk about the ups and downs of running his family farming business, Oneo Farms.
Before venturing into farming, Mauwane worked in systems engineering and research marketing for over 10 years. In the podcast the farmer explains he’d reached the highest level in research and the next step was becoming the CEO. “I just couldn’t handle it, the passion was kicking in and all I wanted to do was farm,” he says.
In 2012, Mauwane resigned from his corporate job and approached the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) to sponsor his course in pig management. They did so, and the rest he says, is history.
Keeping his research hat on, Mauwane started running projects to raise capital to purchase his first farm in 2015.
“I continued hustling to make up the operating costs to sustain the business and two years later I signed an offer and started operating on my second farm,” he adds.
Mauwane started growing spinach and cabbage to feed the pigs on his farm, but soon realised that he loved producing veggies and completely forgot about his pig farming dreams. “I got into vegetable farming by default, because I did not have enough money to buy feed and then I decided to plant vegetables to sustain the pig farming. And it actually happened to be just what I wanted to do.”
In the podcast, Mauwane raises the importance of giving yourself credit. “It hasn’t been a smooth ride but I must say I give myself a pat on the back. When people see what I’ve achieved they don’t see it’s been a hustle, it’s been sleepless nights to figure out where the next salary is going to come from for my workers.”
This young farmer believes one of the biggest mistakes farmers make is turning their farms into what he calls a “fruit and veg”. He says, “we tend to plant a whole lot of crops on a small piece of land and we expect it to be profitable, but we are missing one very important thing: consistency.” His advice to other farmers is to remain consistent and focus. Then the sky is the limit.
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