‘To be young, black and successful in agriculture’

In this week’s episode of Food For Mzansi’s weekly farmers’ podcast called Farmer’s Inside Track, 25-year-old Andile Ngcobo speaks candidly about how limited access to information about covid-19 has impacted Mkhambathini, the rural village in which he farms.

The 25-year-old Ngcobo, who manages Tusokuhle Farm, says although the pandemic has brought the world to its knees, knowledge about the virus is still very limited in his community.

“Information really does reach many of us differently and also, our (different) levels of understanding of the covid-19 pandemic has been rather strange,” he tells Food For Mzansi’s Dawn Noemdoe and Kobus Louwrens on the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Ngcobo notes that while he has easy access to news channels like eNCA, Newzroom Afrika and the SABC, as well as radio stations like Power Talk, Metro FM and Ukhozi FM, most villagers are far removed from the regular updates about the virus.

He says, “Many of the workers on the farm and (those in) surrounding communities in this rural set-up don’t readily have information available like we do, like updates on social media about the pandemic. So, (we had) to educate our staff members to not only practice safety at work in terms of having to wear masks, washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds as well as awareness about how it spreads, and what to do in a situation where you are not feeling well… A lot of education (to these rural villagers) has had to go through the people who we educated on our farm… and to continue to practice safety measures so that they do not contract the disease outside and then bring it in.”

The large-scale commercial farmer, who supplies vegetables to markets across the province, also speaks about the dynamics of being young, black and successful in Mzansi’s agricultural space.

The latest Farmer’s Inside Track podcast episode also boasts a new format, including a new entrepreneurship slot. This week AHI Western Cape chairperson Dr Willie Cilliers uncovers the good, bad and the ugly of hiring your own family. Food For Mzansi journalist Duncan Masiwa also talks about his recent life-changing experience interviewing a 72-year-old blind gardener, Vuyo Tsika, whilst Noluthando Ngcakani tries out a home-made pineapple beer recipe.

Listen to episode 24 of Farmer’s Inside Track: