Tonight on For the love of the land we meet the farmer Wayne Mansfield (34) who, when given lemons, decided to farm his own. Catch the new episode of this brand-new farmers’ TV show on DSTV and Openview.
Mansfield started his working life as a fruit hawker, and when he finally made the shift to become a lemon farmer he never looked back. His inspiring story will be broadcast at 18:00 and 21:00 tonight and 10:00 tomorrow morning. Be sure to tune in on People’s Weather (PPL WX) on DStv channel 180 and Openview channel 115.
In anticipation of the show, produced by Food For Mzansi in partnership with the VKB Group, Mansfield chats to Gugulethu Mahlangu, a Gauteng-based farmer and participant of Food For Mzansi’s Sinelizwi citizen journalism programme.
Mahlangu checks in with the award-winning farmer to find out more about his journey as a farmer and gets some tips for young farmers on how to export produce, and the importance of networking in agriculture.
Gugulethu Mahlangu: So, Wayne, from selling lemons to growing them! In your own opinion which one is easier, and which one is more profitable?
Wayne Mansfield: The one that is easier is selling second grade lemons, you just collect, pack it and sell. It’s easier than farming in my opinion. Profitability must be measured by how big your business is. I’m currently farming on a twelve hectares and I can see that if there’s competition in the lemon business I’ll be in trouble because I only farm one cultivar. So, you can make huge profits in farming if you have a bigger farm with different cultivars.
Citrus in our country is a gold mine export! Could you please explain how one can start exporting produce?
Citrus is doing very well in the export market. I believe that if you have certificates with Global Gap you’re on the right track. Make sure your quality is good then you can contact export agents for different opinions on how you can sell your produce best.
Many farmers look at your success story and are inspired. What advice can you give them on some of the challenges you faced and overcame?
Firstly, thank you! I’m only trying to do my best and if it inspires people I’m happy. My biggest challenge right now is acquiring more land to farm, I’ve been struggling with this for four years. I’ve looked at even leasing land but it’s hard to find land with enough water to grow citrus and it’s also quite expensive. But I don’t give up and you should not too.
From my 12 ha farm, only 5.2 ha is in production and the income I get from it must provide for the whole 12 ha. So cash flow is a challenge because there’s rent and electricity due. As a farmer, things can get tough and it’s challenging to get help. Thankfully the department of agriculture in the Western Cape assists us technically and financially as upcoming farmers, so all hope is not lost.
You were selling your produce and interacted with a lot of farmers until a farm manager gave you an opportunity to become a farmer. Please share the importance of networking in the agriculture sector.
Yes, I got a great opportunity because in my area there’s about 15 to 20 farmers. All the credit must go to my dad, John Mansfield. He taught me everything about farming, living life and how to approach certain situations. He taught me how to handle fruit carefully and treat it like you would eat it yourself. I was taught early in life to be straight up with farmers, if you owe them then you must explain to them face to face why you cant meet your payments. From that, I managed to gain trust from farmers around me who helped me with getting fruit that I packed and started selling. So, it’s very important to network and be respectful in the industry because you’ll never know where your blessings can lie.
Let’s talk about grades in the citrus industry. Could you briefly explain how grades affect your market?
Grades are very important, especially if you have good quality fruits like grade 1 and grade 2. There’s so much citrus in the country, so quality will be key for you to be successful and competitive in this industry. The better the quality and size the better you will grow your business faster and make money.
And, lastly, what’s your favorite way to relax after a long day on the orchards, Wayne?
Coming home to my wife and my two kids is my favourite because they remind me why I get up early in the morning and farm. I’m a family man so they really make me happy.
Be sure to tune in tonight on People’s Weather (PPL WX) on DStv channel 180 and Openview channel 115 to see Wayne Mansfield in episode 9 of For the love of the land. The episode is broadcast at 18:00 and 21:00 tonight and 10:00 tomorrow morning. Tune in tomorrow evening at the same times for final episode in the series.