Emerging farmer on track to reap rewards of hard work

2013-04-17 00:00

IN an industry littered with failures, an emerging black farmer in Estcourt is determined to make a success of commercial farming.

Mdumiseni Mlangeni (38) is trying hard to put his emerging farmer status behind him.

The Witness visited him at his farm, Sunnyside, just outside Estcourt, where he recently hosted a field day to show other emerging farmers what he has achieved and what they can also achieve with commitment.

Clad in khaki shirt and shorts, long socks and boots, he said: “The problem with us [emerging black farmers] is that we always just want money from the government; we wait for that money without showing what we can achieve,” he said.

Mlangeni, originally from Bergville, started farming almost three years ago after he realised that his previous jobs — “tenderpreneur” and teacher — were “simply big mistakes”.

He acquired the farm with the assistance of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

The department bought the farm for R5,5 million and leased it to him. It arranged a further R6 million for the recapitalisation of the farm.

Mlangeni was partnered with people with expertise in the sector and his progress is monitored by accounting firm KPMG.

“I identified this farm as I had heard that it was for sale and I approached the Department of and Land Reform for assistance … within eight months, I had moved in and started working on it.”

The 262 hectare farm has the hallmarks of a successful operation. It has over 200 cattle, including calves, and large fields of maize ready to be harvested, beans and land planted with grass for hay.

There are three tractors and two bakkies.

This year Mlangeni will take his first harvest of white maize to a processor.

“I did not wait for the department to start investing in this farm,” he said.

“After they leased it to me, I sold some of my cattle and used the money to plough and to plant mealies. By the time they came, I was already on the way.

“In the future, I want to do beef farming. I will continue to plant these other crops to produce food for my cattle.”

Bonginkosi Zulu, of the Rural Development Department, said Mlangeni was one of their success stories.

The department was investing in other emerging farmers to improve their chances of success.

“There are other farmers assisted through the same programme, but who are struggling,” said Zulu.

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