Education truly shifts the way we think and do things. Winnie Gininda has been an academic for most of her life, but due to a neurological disability, some changes had to be made. She found peace with farming, even though it came with its own set of challenges. Gininda is one of the inspiring women selected for the Corteva Women Agripreneur 2022, a year-long blended development programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA).
Born and bred in Mbombela, Gininda grew up with parents who were subsistence farmers. She reflects happily that as a child she would not take any lunch to school because it was located next to the plot where she lived.
“I would not carry a lunch box to school. I would go home to get my lunch,” she says.
In 2003 she left Mbombela to pursue her studies in KwaZulu-Natal. Gininda made the best of university life to the point where she pursued a career within the institution.
“I went to study geographical science mixed with rural development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and then I did environmental management.”
Well, the list of successes is quite long for Gininda. She continued to shine as an academic by landing her first job as a junior lecturer at UKZN.
“While I was studying I was working at the institution as a lab assistant and later on as a junior lecturer. I never left the institution until I decided to become a farmer.”
In 2011 Gininda left the tertiary institution to pursue farming because her parents were getting older. Initially, the plan was to help them out for three years but the farming bug bit and she stayed on to farm full-time.
“Farming was my father’s thing. In the early 90s, I could not believe there was such a thing as owning a farm. I wanted to help them out for three years on the farm, but ended up falling in love,” she says.
There are more reasons why Gininda left UKZN. Even though she loved teaching, it was quite a high-stress job. “I have a neurological disability. Being on the farm and being in a quiet environment assists me and I work at my own pace, which helps me compared to the high-stress environment.”
In 2012, Gininda became the manager of the farm. She expresses that even though farming has its own challenges, she doesn’t regret anything.
Farming from the heart
When they bought the farm, it was a family cooperative and recently it was established as a full business, she says.
“We do mixed farming with livestock including Bonsmara, piggery, goats, and macadamias that we are developing.”
Unfortunately business is slow. Gininda has had issues with access from the main route to the farm for years and she is still waiting for the department to help them.
“The previous owner made an agreement with the other farmer to use a shortcut route that passes through another farm. And then when we entered the farm, that became an issue with the other farmer,” she explains.
Ginindi adds that they have been in and out of court for years, but there was no active effort from the department to bring about change.
Right time, right place
With everything going on in her life, Gininda felt like she was slipping away due to stress and potential depression. When she saw the Corteva programme, it was a godsend, just what she needed to be able to find the motivation to continue the fight.
“Being part of Corteva changed my dreams. I was taking it slowly and not so seriously and now I want to be more serious.”
Additionally, the skills that she was taught took her above and beyond, she says. She feels more prepared for a few other farming opportunities now.
“Now that we are starting agrotourism, I am more prepared with additional skills. And meeting everyone is amazing,” she adds.
“The farm is creating jobs for people in the community. I am open from time to time to help other farmers. There are a number of farmers I am working with, especially women, and I encourage that.”
The world is her oyster. For Gininda, she wants to progress at her own pace and make a difference, whether big or small, she says.
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