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Farmer's agricultural dream blossoms

Sibande's supplies local supermarkets, restaurants

Zakhele Sibande (29), a budding farmer from Carolina, Mpumalanga.
Zakhele Sibande (29), a budding farmer from Carolina, Mpumalanga.
Image: vukuzenzele

Zakhele Sibande was unemployed with no post-school qualifications when he met an agriculture teacher who encouraged him to start farming.

“I didn’t think I would do well at tertiary level considering that I finished [high] school at 23, so I didn’t bother.

“I always wanted to be a farmer but I didn’t understand or know how I would go about it,” said the 29-year-old man from Carolina, Mpumalanga.

That was until 2021 when he had a chance to encounter with his former agricultural studies teacher.

“He encouraged me to start with what I had and take it from there,” he said.

He heeded the advice and started growing spinach in his backyard.  And with that, Sakhasive Agricultural was born.

To buy seeds he relied on money he had earned from the odd jobs that he did from time to time.

Realising that he needed bigger space to reach his full potential, in early 2022 he negotiated with a school in his area to allow him to make use of a neglected half-acre plot.

Today, Sibande grows spinach, green peppers and cabbage. The produce is then sold to local supermarkets, restaurants and street vendors.

“My ultimate goal is to one day become a commercial farmer who creates employment opportunities for more than 100 people,” he said.

While the start-up is currently a one-man operation, from time to time he ropes in some locals to harvest and deliver the produce.

In August, Sakhisive received R50,000 funding from the National Youth Development Agency. With the funds, Sibande purchased farm inputs such as a JoJo tank, an irrigation system, a water pump, seedlings and office equipment.

“They also helped me with online mentorship programmes,” he said.

This year, the Chief Albert Luthuli local municipality erected a fence on the business’s premises.

“What I need right now is access to bigger land where I can have great growth potential and a bit of certainty,” he said.

He beams with pride when asked how the start-up had impacted his life.

“I don’t rely on anyone to put food on my table.”  This article was first published in the GCIS’s  Vuk’uzenzele

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