This week I went to Bizana in the Eastern Cape with Dylan Weyer of Harry Gwala Agri to meet 2 young women farmers, Zihkona Bhantshi and Athayanda Mdanyana. The women met while they were studying agriculture at the Umzimkulu TVET College. Zihkona did her in-service training at Eastwolds Farm in the Ixopo area through the Pannar Seed sponsored Harry Gwala Agri Student program. Since then, they have become business partners and food crop farmers and are taking one step at a time to make this dream a reality. They started ANZ Greenfields together and plant cabbages, sugar beans, potatoes and spinach. And just recently they have started supplying the local Bizana Boxer store with their produce.
I asked Athayanda what advice she could offer to students who want to start farming? She said, ‘start with what you have.’
In Zihkona and Athayanda’s case, they joined efforts and finances by going into partnership together. They believe they are a good fit for a partnership because they have the same ideas, values and goals and are equally motivated to grow their business and to put in the work that that goal requires of them. They started off small by growing vegetables in the homestead’s back vegetable garden. From there, they sold their produce to the local community and local Bed and breakfasts and with time, they generated enough finance to expand and start utilising Zihkona’s family land to plant crops.
They have recently finished harvesting their sugar beans and spinach and have just planted 6000 cabbage seedlings that were purchased from Sutherland Seedlings in Ixopo. Zihkona and Athayanda know that growing their business happens one step at a time. But they have big dreams – to become the biggest vegetable farmers in the Bizana district. They know what improvements they need to make for this to happen and what their priorities are in the way of those improvements.
It’s been encouraging to see students taking responsibility for their dreams becoming a reality by starting with what they have and each year, expanding and growing their business. I believe these 2 women farmers have what it takes to achieve their goal! Watch this space.
Lianne Ashton Photography©2022
About Lianne Ashton
Lianne is a photographer based in KZN, South Africa. Her work mostly focuses on agriculture, in particular – the human element of agriculture. She creates people-centric photography for organisations and businesses, capturing the processes of an operation and the people in their work environment
Lianne has an agricultural background and is knowledgeable of a number of agricultural industries. Her understanding of agriculture and approachable and flexible nature enables her to connect easily with her clients and the people she is photographing, helping her capture and create authentic and uplifting imagery.
Contact Lianne to find out more about her photography services
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