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Never give up, farmer tells entrepreneurs

Written by Hlengiwe Ngobese

Loyiso Pepeta, former chief financial officer of Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, always knew that he would have his own business one day. Which is why, when he heard that a Kokstad farm was on the market in 2012, he took a leap of faith and resigned from his job.

His farm, Copperfield, has a dairy with 146 Jersey cows that produce 2 500 litres of milk a day, as well as 226 cows for beef production. The farm supplies Spar, Rhino Supermarkets and wholesalers across KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape with milk, maas and yoghurt.

It started with 10 employees but now has 36 permanent staff members.

Pepeta said his journey would not have been possible without a R4 million business loan from the Ithala Development Finance Corporation. “The loan helped me to buy the farm, machines and cows.”

He also invested his retirement money in the business. “I had no choice but to make it work.”

Farming takes dedication

The business, like any other business, has its own challenges, he said, adding that the most pressing is acquiring more land to allow them to keep more cows and increase their output.

“To meet demand from our clients, we need to produce at least 15 000 litres of milk a day but because we are so far off the mark, we end up buying raw milk from other farms to meet the demand,” he said.

With regards to the beef production, the farm sells more than 150 cows a year. He plans to have his own abattoir to supply directly to the shops.

Farming, he notes, is not for people without dedication because you have to work seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Pepeta’s advice to young entrepreneurs is simple: “Don’t be afraid to take big risks. The bigger the risk, the higher the returns.

“Never give up when you are facing challenges. Challenges are not there to kill you but to strengthen your abilities.”

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