Ten years on, Ugu cane grower reaping the fruits of hard work

2011-04-01 00:00

JERICO Shozi of Magimbela Farm in the Ugu District is a cane grower who has overcome floods, drought, financial hardships and every other adversity thrown at him.

In 2001, with a R100 000 deposit which he obtained as a beneficiary of the land redistribution programme, he purchased his first 460 ha sugar cane farm from Illovo Sugar Limited. His biggest fear at that time was leaving a secure job to run his own farm, but with several years of farming experience he felt confident.

Shozi took advice from wherever he could, attended junior and senior certificate courses in sugarcane husbandry, participated in study groups, asked for assistance from Illovo’s extension officer, and heeded the economic and technical advice from cane growers’ staff.

His hard work paid off and within nine years Shozi was able to pay off his R1,6 million debt on the farm.

He bought an additional 18 ha from a neighbour and in 2010 a further 160 ha from another neighbour, expanding his holding to 638 ha of which 247 ha is under cane. In a normal season, the farm cuts 12 500 tons of cane per annum. The drought conditions experienced in the 2010/11 reduced him to 8 656 tons.

Shozi takes full responsibility for decision making on the farm and is assisted by one of his three sons and three supervisors. The most important changes affected in his farming business over the past five years are the establishment of a borehole, which is also used to assist the local community with water supply, the purchase of cattle to access areas which are inaccessible by tractor and the introduction of new plans for his farming operation.

A dedicated family man, his vision for the future is to grow his cane farming enterprise even further in order to leave a legacy for his family.

Right now he has his sights set on another 140 ha from a neighbouring farm.

Shozi’s priorities for this season are to replant some 25 ha of fields that were impacted by drought in 2010/11, estimated at R350 000, which will be in addition to his normal replanting programme. About 25 ha under cane has been damaged from the drought.

In anticipation of rising fuel costs and the impact this will have on fertiliser, he has already purchased all his fertiliser requirements for the 2011/12 season.

He is also a firm believer that farming is important in a socio-economic sense “as one only needs to look around the rural areas and see the impact farming has on rural communities and livelihoods”.

Shozi also believes that there is a future for farmers, saying, “Without us, who will feed the nation? “I am contributing to the financial and socio-economic wellbeing of my region and the country,” he says proudly.

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