Good farm, no farm: Bronkhorstspruit

2013-06-23 13:59

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In Bronkhorstspruit, one farmer with the right stuff bucks the trend.

While there have been a litany of failed land reform projects, farmer Gift Mafuleka’s is not one of them.

The 342?hectare farm the 31-year-old Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, farmer received four years ago through government’s land-redistribution programme employs 12 people full time.

The man with a BTech diploma in crop production spotted the gap when his former boss, a major food processing company that leased the farm, pulled out.

He submitted a business plan to government, which bought and recapitalised the farm.

Mafuleka’s land is part of about 4?million hectares of farmland that has been redistributed since 1994.

He uses about 130 hectares for grazing and growing the grass he bales to feed the 45 head of Tuli cattle he breeds and sells to other commercial breeders.

While his numbers are still low, because parental stock for the Zimbabwean cattle variety is expensive, this farmer hopes to expand his business.

On his 180?hectares of arable land, Mafuleka grows peas in winter and sweet corn in summer, which he sells to his former employer.

The farm’s unirrigated land is used to grow maize and soya in rotation in three-year cycles to keep soil diseases at bay.

On a smaller portion, he grows crops such as spinach and cabbage for the local township market to boost his cash flow.

He also leases additional land to increase grain production.

Mafuleka says farming profit margins are very tight, but his business makes enough to pay its running costs and sustain itself.

He says revenue is less than R5?million annually, but has been growing steadily over the last four years.

Mafuleka attributes his success partly to the fact that he farmed at the age of eight in a rural area outside Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, where his father was a small-scale sugar cane farmer.

“I am an entrepreneur who is passionate about farming and developing the industry. Those are good characteristics a farmer needs to have. I have also been able to take all the learning I had and put it together to have a farming corporation that aspires to be a big player. As well as planning, networking has helped us a lot,” he says.

In 2011, Mafuleka won the Toyota New Harvest of the Year award, and was last year recognised as Gauteng’s new entrant into commercial farming.

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