Edward Wisdom is a commercial farmer of African vegetables based in Vanderbijlpark, south of Gauteng. In 1996, he opened a shop in Braamfontein, which made him one of the first Nigerian shop owners in Johannesburg.
In this week’s episode of the Farmer’s Inside Track Podcast series, Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens hang out with “Uncle Wiz”, who is also affectionately known as Green Fingers because everything that he puts in the ground grows well.
In the interview Wisdom says one of the reasons he started farming in South Africa is because he noticed a gap in the market and decided to capitalize on it. He explains that most people like him who were in Mzansi from other countries on the continent were importing their food, because their staples weren’t readily available in Mzansi.
Wisdom also highlights the challenges he faces as a Nigerian farmer in SA. “Some people still say: ‘A Nigerian that’s farming? Are you sure he’s not planting drugs there?’” he says about the attitude he still gets from locals.
Responding to Price’s question on how the recent xenophobic outbreaks in Johannesburg affected him, Wisdom says, “a lack of education and knowledge has prompted these xenophobic attacks. With this platform (Farmer’s Inside Track), I believe some South Africans will see that not all Nigerians are here to destroy the country”.
This passionate farmer has not had it easy and shares some of his struggles with accessing government funding, failed cooperatives and stock theft. In the podcast, he offers advice to listeners with an interest in agriculture and shares interesting nuggets about his recent trip to Italy and what the agricultural culture is like there.
“Wherever I go I preach to young South African boys and girls to embrace farming. Because without framing, without subsistence agriculture the economy will always suffer. When the young ones see that the elders are growing food in their yards, it goes into them. Because agriculture is spiritual it transfers from the elders to the young ones. I would like for government to make agriculture look sexy,” Wisdom says.
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