Sunday, April 14, 2024

Young farmer unlocks the market

While majority of the younger generation is occupied with technology and other lifestyle activities, Sthembiso Thwala (24) on another hand chose farming as his passion. The love for farming and agriculture was sparked by her grandmother who was also a farmer, growing up as a young boy he would help his grandmother at a sugarcane field as well as with planting cash crops using the organic formula. Tholokuhle High School also had agricultural activities where he also participated as a student.

In 2013 at the age of 14 her Grandmother passed away, after matric he took it upon himself to work the land that her grandmother left. He started planting lettuce after doing his market research, he discovered that there was a huge demand for lettuce on restaurants that sells shawarma. Later on the Department of Agriculture introduced him to planting dry crops.

In 2020 he had to juggle between being a farm manager in one of the farms at Heatonville and running his own farm. He decided to work as a farm manager in a large scale farm to gain more experience and to raise funds for his business.

His farm employs 5 local community members as temporary workers during the planting season, wedding and harvesting period. His focus is planting Spinach and Lettuce as both commodities are in demand, he still sell his lettuces to restaurants and spinach to big retail stores like Andrews Spar, 5Ways Spar, Town Square Spar, Lakeside and meerensee Spar, Food Lovers Market, Boxer at ENseleni Mall as well as the general public.

He sometimes fail to meet the market demand not because he does not have sufficient land but due to not having the right resources to enhance the planting production.

Sthembiso is a current student at Owen Sithole Agriculture College and he is pro upskilling himself, he have participated in various skills development programmes offered by government and private sector, he has participated in entrepreneurship programmes offered by SEDA, NYDA, VODACOM, SEED OF HOPE, ZCBF, UMHLATHUZE MUNICIPALITY, BIO-WATCH, SOUTH32, MONDI and Department of Agriculture. He is actively engaging himself in all of those programmes to equip himself with the goals that he have set for himself, like meeting the market demand.

Despite the challenges, Sthembiso soldiers on. He have already secured support from City of uMhlathuze, ZCBF, Hollywood Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Mondi, and South 32. All these entities have helped him with resources like irrigation system, seedlings, shade nets, fencing and gardening tools.

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