Anelisa Sibanda | 19th Feb 2023
As the unemployment rate continues to sky-rocket, Masimbonge Vuma decided to venture into farming after he finished his diploma in mechanical engineering. But this was only after a long period of hopping from one company to another trying to find employment.
The 26-year-old lad from Cala in Eastern Cape is the youngest from a family of four. Vuma was raised by his late mother and grandmother.
Vuma also holds a diploma in agricultural management from Nelson Mandela University, which he used to start his farming business, Sahaba Holdings.
“I have two sisters, who are both married. Currently, I live with my brother at home who assists me with my farming business. My uncle played a huge role in my life. He had tractors, which he used to plant for small-time farmers, and I used to accompany him.
That’s when I was first introduced to farming but it wasn’t something I thought I would pursue in future as a career.”
When Vuma started five years ago, he farmed in his backyard until he acquired land from which to ply his farming business. “The business did not make any sense when I started but I persevered and worked hard to make it work. The land I currently work is 200 hectares, but due to lack of funds I only occupy 11 hectares of it.”
Vuma used the money he made from selling second-hand textbooks in university as well profit from selling fast food to fund his business.
He said one needs to be patient, be willing to start small and grow in the industry.
“In terms of capital, the government helps sometimes with grants and loans, so you need to do a lot of paperwork as a farmer to apply for these loans and grants, that’s how you keep the wheels rolling.”
“We produce a variety of vegetables in the field and in greenhouse tunnels. We produce cabbage, spinach, lettuce, bell/sweet peppers, maize and herbs. We also farm in livestock such as pigs, chicken broilers and layers. We sell our livestock to an abattoir.”
Vuma has eight employees on contract and gets additional people to assist when there is too much work. The employees are responsible for daily farming activities, planting, weeding, irrigation, harvesting and packing fresh produce.
“We sell our produce to Spar, Boxer, Usave and fresh produce market. Most of our customers collect their goods, for those who do not we offer delivery services. For now, we cater for local people and surrounding areas like Ngcobo and Queenstown.”
He said farmers are faced with challenges when a business is still in its infancy due to a lack of resources. “Farming needs a lot of capital, especially if you want to farm on a large scale.”
He added that the forever-rising fuel costs and load shedding challenges put further strain on farmers.
“Speaking about his proudest accomplishments since he ventured into farming, Vuma said being able to create employment is one of them.
“With my business, I have created jobs for the young unemployed and this gives me a lot of joy to contribute to fighting unemployment in my community.
“I am hoping to run a self-sustained business and commercialise the business and help ensure South Africa is a food-secured country. Over the years, I have learnt that farming is not only about getting your hands dirty, but it is a business to be taken seriously.”
Vuma said he hoped to supply goods nationwide in the future.
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.