GROWING up in a previously disadvantaged family with a high unemployment rate inspired Sizwe Ndlovu from Msinga, near Muden, to start a vegetable garden to feed his community. Being an emerging farmer with little agricultural background, Ndlovu attended workshops offered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in order to build his business. His aim is to give jobs to currently unemployed local youth. Speaking to the Greytown Gazette, Ndlovu said his love of farming began from an early age. “I was encouraged to see my mother working in the garden. That is how my love of farming started. “We used to wake up at about 2 am to fetch water from the river to use in the garden before going to school. When I completed matric I realised that I had skills that I could use in farming. I then asked my mother to give me a piece of land from her garden. “I started off with corn, cabbage, potatoes and green peppers.“I still wake up early in the morning, at about 4 am, to check my crops in the garden before going to work at 9 am. “I enjoy being a farmer because I work at my own pace. “During harvesting period, my mother and other women help me. We use chemicals to kill insects like crickets and cutworms that attack our crops “My dream is to get an opportunity in the agriculture industry and encourage the youth in this hard time of job opportunities. “I want to teach them about the significance of farming. It worries me to see so few young people in the agricultural sector. The industry is predominantly dominated by the aged and women. “My dream is to get my own vehicle that I can use to transport my vegetables to the market. “I made a loss in the business last year; my green peppers were destroyed by a storm. This year alone I ended up selling cabbage for R5. That was a huge loss in my business again,” Ndlovu said. He said the Department of Agriculture supports emerging farmers with garden tools. “The department also supplies us with chemicals that we use to destroy the weeds in the garden. “Competition at the market is tough. Other farmers sell products to the customers at a lower price — this becomes a great loss to my business. Those are some of the challenges that I have to deal with on a daily basis. “I would like to encourage emerging farmers to be hard working and persistent,” Ndlovu said.