Mthokozisi Zwane (32) is the owner of Zamantimande Mix Farming, a grain, livestock and crop farm that produces potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, dry beans and maize, and raises free-range chickens, cattle and goats.
Zwane’s business is based in Mkhondo, Mpumalanaga.
He says agriculture can help fight poverty and address food security. “Many families within the black society often don’t know where their next meal will come from.”
He added that he grew up in a household where his grandfather was growing their food and learnt about farming.
Zwane says, initially he was not interested in farming. Instead, he dreamt of being a businessman. However, he grew to understand agriculture’s importance in sustaining human life.
After completing a marketing diploma from the Gert Sibande Technical and Vocational Education and Training College, Zwane left Mpumalanga for Gauteng to seek employment.
He managed to find employment as a sales and marketing agent in Alberton, but the longing to start his own business never left him.
“I resigned from my job in February 2015 and started researching agricultural businesses. After realising the scarcity of youth in the industry, I decided to capitalise on that.”
Zwane was fortunate to still have access to land that belonged to his late grandfather. While doing research in 2016, he came across a National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Facebook post about a skills development programme for young people that was being offered in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, and successfully applied.
Following his training, he managed to secure a
R50 000 grant from the NYDA, which he used to purchase fencing, a water tank, pipes, fertiliser and a water pump.
It is because of this grant, says Zwane, that his business is now able to permanently employ four people and hire another eight temporary employees, mainly young people, during the December holidays. He plans to expand his operations and hire more people so that he can supply chain stores not only in his hometown, but across the Mpumalanga province.
Zwane urges the youth to find out about opportunities offered by government-funded agencies. “I also urge young people to be involved in agriculture so that we can create sustainable employment and a means of ensuring food security.”