When young farmer Ncumisa Mkabile recently harvested her first batch of spinach on a piece of land in Khayelitsha, it was sold by lunchtime.
Mkabile (27) is an inspiration to any young person who wants to become a farmer. She previously ran a small catering company but when the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) arrived in South Africa, she had to close down the business.
“My only source of income dried up, so I decided to think of a different plan. I bought chickens and started selling them to people; that was my very first experience of anything to do with farming,” says Mkabile.
But Mkabile wanted to do more. She decided to find a way to grow vegetables.
“My plan was to start growing green peppers and plant them in September. But then I went onto the internet and researched the crops that can be grown in winter. Spinach looked like the perfect option because it was easy to maintain.”
She rented a piece of land from a local leader and planted her first spinach crop in May.
“There were challenges along the way because I had no experience of doing this. I also didn’t have any irrigation system so all the watering of the plants was done by hand.”
With the help of seven previously unemployed people from Khayelitsha, Mkabile successfully harvested her first crop of spinach. By simply posting on social media, she was able to find a market for her product before the harvest.
“It was all sold out by lunchtime on the day of the harvest! I have been amazed by the response and support from people. I had no market when I started and now I have built up a name for myself.”
After her success made headlines, Mkabile has now secured supplier contracts with several supermarkets. She aims to become a commercial farmer one day, and is passionate about being able to provide employment to more people.
The young farmer says that people who want to start farming should start small and use what they have.