From one goat to two farms, 46 pigs, 13 cows and 68 goats – EC man shares his love of farming

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Zibuko Binqela talks about his love for farming.
Zibuko Binqela talks about his love for farming.
Facebook/Zibuko Binqela

At any given time, he is either wearing a suit and has an overall and boots in his car or vice versa.

But farming was never part of the plan for the township boy who went to former Model C schools.

“When my father advised me to buy a goat in my early 20s I couldn’t have been more disinterested,” says farmer Zibuko Binqela.

In 2009, his father advised him to get into farming even if he just buys one goat a year, but Zibuko (now 33) ran for the hills.

“I was not interested in farming. I grew up in Mdantsane, I knew nothing even remotely close to farming. I had never lived in the rural areas so things like milking cows, giving goats medicine and giving pigs feed were never part of my vocabulary,” he recalls.

He tells Drum his father had a few goats, cows and pigs in Ngqushwa while he lived in Gqeberha and making sure they were well maintained was a challenge.

“I had bought land so my dad and I agreed that I would take his herdsman and look after his livestock.”

And so the seed was planted.

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“I was looking after it and learning from the herdsman and I was seeing an increase in numbers and I started getting interested too.”

By profession he is a financial planner and sold an investment property because he wanted to go all in and see how great the return on investment would be.

“I did not want to do anything in half measures, so within the first year I had bought about 15 goats. It was around 2017 or 2018, almost 10 years after my dad tried to convince me. By 2019, I had 25 pigs, 12 cow and 13 goats. All the while I was working full time.

“But the nice thing about my job is that it is not a conventional 9 to 5, you create your own hours. It is also commission based, so every bit of money I had, I ploughed back into the business. If I finished early with clients and had the afternoon free, I would go to the farm.”

He was initially buying the livestock to breed, then he realized there was huge demand for castrated goats because they are used for traditional ceremonies so he started buying them to sell them.

“June and December are the busiest times because of all the ceremonies like traditional circumcision,” he says.

But his budding business took a huge knock when Covid-19 regulations were introduced and implemented.

Read more | South Africans rally around young Free State farmer after he loses stock in heavy rains

“To run a farm effectively, it requires a lot of maintenance and money. Suddenly because of lockdown I was sitting with stock I could not use, I had to feed them while I was not making money from my day job because we were not earning an income because of Covid-19. My family had to live, so I had to sell my livestock.

“I could no longer afford to buy feed for the pigs for R4000 a month anymore. I sold all 13 of my cows, most of the pigs and about 13 goats.”

Other business owners were not able to stay open after lockdown, Zibuko says, and their customers came to him.

"You'll remember that the winter initiation season in 2020 was disrupted and so when the president opened the country up at the end of the year with limited numbers at functions, people rushed to get their ceremonies done before he closed without warning again. So that December was very busy for me. Then slowly but surely I was able to buy livestock again. 

"Then there was the next wave and the restrictions were hectic again and as soon as things opened up, there was another large rush. So I was able to capitalize on people's fear that the country would close soon."

Thankfully, he has since recovered and even has opened a second farm and has quit his day job.

“Things are really looking up again and I just could not keep up with the demands of my job and the farm in Gqeberha, so I quit. I want to create generational wealth for my three daughters,” he adds.

Now he has four full-time employees between his two farms and has 13 cows, 46 pigs and 68 goats. 

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