24-year-old egg farmer Mbalentle Sipengane sets sights on retail market

Young female farmer Mbalentle Sipengane, whose farm produces 4000 eggs, arranges the eggs produced by 11000 hens in Vanderbijlpark, Vaal./Silusapho Nyanda
Young female farmer Mbalentle Sipengane, whose farm produces 4000 eggs, arranges the eggs produced by 11000 hens in Vanderbijlpark, Vaal./Silusapho Nyanda

Young egg farmer Mbalentle Sipengane runs a farm with more than 11000 layer hens that produce thousands of eggs she sells to small retailers and locals.

The 24-year-old runs the family-owned Manzoi Egg Farm after the family benefited from a land redistribution programme.

The Sipengane family is now renting the farm from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform after previously renting it from its former white owners.

This was after the department bought out the owners and leased it to Sipengane's uncle and aunt, Neto and Busisiwe Maya.

"We are the beneficiaries of land reform but I feel as if the government should give people trial periods to see if they are productive with the land that has been leased to them. If they are productive then they can be given land on a permanent basis," said Sipengane.

She believes that before people take ownership of land, they must show the potential they have of using it productively. "Mentorship is extremely important especially if you don't have experience," she said.

The farm has two hatcheries and employs 10 people who feed the chicken, clean the hatcheries collect, weigh and package the over 4000 eggs produced daily.

The Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development helped Sipengane with a donation of 2000 hens and 500 bags of chicken feed.

Sipengane will take part in Young Farmers summit organised by the African Farmers Association of SA later this month.

She said she still faces a lot of challenges. A breeder refused to supply her until she pretended to be a male Afrikaner. "When we wrote a letter to the farmer, he refused and said he was out of stock. We rewrote the letter in Afrikaans and hired an Afrikaner male to act as if he was the farm's owner," she said.

The association's economist, Malapane Thamaga, said young women like Sipengane were inspirational. The organisation, which represents over 3000 farmers, supports the expropriation of land without compensation. Thamaga said: "As the African Farmers Association of SA, we advocate for farmers to have access to finance, land and water as well as markets."

Sipengane wants to expand and enter the retail market space.

She believes that the government's expropriation of land without compensation must be done systematically in a way that will ensure that beneficiaries of land reform use the land in a productive manner.

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