When David Mphuti dropped out of university, his dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer went up in smoke. Life was tough for Mphuti without a qualification and no prospects of a job.
Mphuti had to go back home to do what he believes he was destined to do, farming. With help of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) he runs a successful chicken feed manufacturing farm and supplies many small chicken broilers in and around Welkom.
He is also in negotiations with one of the biggest supermarkets (Pick n Pay) to supply them with chicken feeds and has great plans of expanding the business to offer training in the whole value chain of making money out of chicken.
According to Mphuti, the whole value chain includes, among others egg laying chickens, broilers, an abattoir, manufacturing chicken feeds and planting maize and sunflower to feed the chicken.
Mphuti’s love for farming goes back to when he was a little boy growing up in Qwa Qwa, he says farming was the only thing he knew and though things were difficult when he dropped out of varsity, at the back of his mind, he knew that farming was his way out of poverty.
“For me farming was a lifestyle, even when I was going through that difficult period at the back of my mind I knew that I will go back to farming.”
Mphuti and a few farmers around Welkom started Dihoai Farming Cooperative operating a small feed mill and broiler project on their farm. Since it was started, the cooperative has been producing feed mill for their own broiler projects and selling small quantities to the neighbouring chicken farms.
At the beginning, Mphuti says it was tough until he approached the NEF in 2011 for funding. The NEF funded him with a loan of R8.5 million payable within 10 years.
The funding was used for buying machinery, construction costs and working capital and he says so far he has been having a good relationship with the NEF.
“So far we have been working together without any problem and I’m grateful for the contribution they have made in this farm.”
He says small black farmers can succeed by working together especially in the same region. “The only way to succeed is to club together and assist each other where we can, like we are doing here, we are selling chicken feed at a lesser price to small and emerging farmers around Welkom.”
Dihoai also assists small local farmers with storage of their chicken, it sells feed at a lower price and it helps those who want to slaughter their chicken for the market.
They are currently leasing a 20 hectare farm next to Dihoai where they produce 2000 tons of maize that is able to manufacture feed to cater for 250 000 broilers and 250 000 layers.
Mphuti says the farm has big plans for the future and he is hopeful that in the next few years, Dohoai will be a success story.