In 2004 farming couple Alan and Eugene Simons were retrenched from their jobs as agricultural workers. Grappling for ways to put food on their table, pay their debt and make a living, they decided to use their farming skills and start their own family farming business – and they’ve never looked back.
In this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast episode, the power couple joins Food For Mzansi’s editor, Dawn Noemdoe, giving their take on what it takes to run three successful agribusinesses, including Algina’s Wholesale Nursery.
“Starting your own farm without any capital available is difficult. You tend to doubt yourself and unfortunately you need capital to start any business, whether it’s big or small. But we stuck it out and our first crop was sold by Eugene,” Alan recalls.
The couple built their businesses on land Alan’s father, William, started leasing in 1998 on Rustenhof farm in Firgrove, Cape Town. For the past 21 years the duo and their children have been working the land.
Alan believes that as an agripreneur you need to be innovative and that it’s important to consider which crops are going to be viable. Getting their foot in the door to start selling their produce, Eugene says, “was like winning the lottery”.
In the podcast the duo also highlights the challenges they’ve faced, like theft, vandalism and the recent droughts. Despite their challenges the power couple continue to count their blessings. In 2015 Eugene won the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Top Female Entrepreneur award, while Alan won the Western Cape Prestige Agri Award for the Durbanville region last year.
“It was such an honor to receive this recognition and as a result of the award, Algina’s Wholesale Nursery have been supplying seedlings to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s food security projects,” Eugene says.
Alan says the award is a milestone for him. “Farm workers don’t get much acknowledgement and to be recognised on such a prestigious level really means a lot to me too,” he says.
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