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Former nursing sister Nomthunzi Nduzulwana refused to surrender to natural risks such as drought. It is this undying spirit of no surrender that has seen her dairy, High Heaven Farm, at Thorn Park just outside East London continuing to survive amid the crippling drought that has plagued the Eastern Cape during the last three years.

Pigs and chickens

Apart from dairy farming, Nomthunzi also runs a piggery and a chicken broiler farm, which supplies more than 200 000 broilers every six weeks to a local poultry processing company, ANCA. Sixty large sows and three boars have also helped Nomthunzi to constantly supply quality pork to a local abattoir.

She also has an in-house chicken abattoir where meat is processed. Smoked chicken, viennas and processed chicken meat for the catering industry, as well as chicken sausages are among the products produced on the farm.

Milk and vegetables

On the dairy side, 70 cows supply milk to a local dairy products processing company.

Because of drought Nomthunzi can’t explore other areas of farming such as cattle farming or vegetable production. But she has applied for a loan from a local provincial development finance organisation to put in more boreholes, which will help her restart vegetable production.

Hooked on farming

Nomthunzi has been interested in farming since childhood. “My father was a church minister and we stayed in a mission where there was a lot of subsistence farming by the locals on the mission land. We used to help the farmers and that’s how I got hooked on farming,” she says.

While she was nursing at Berlin, she bought a piece of land and started a small-scale vegetable production business. The business grew and became successful, but the land was too small for further growth.

In September 2008, she heard that there were farms on sale in the East London area and made enquiries. “I approached the then Land Affairs Department, now known as Rural Development and Land Reform, for assistance. They bought the farm under the scheme known as the Pro-active Land Acquisition Scheme (PLAS).”

Employees

There are now 50 employees, including young people, at High Heaven Farm – 12 men and 38 women. Of these, 30 are employed on a permanent basis and the remaining 20 on a seasonal basis. Nomthunzi’s sister, brother and five children help her to manage the business.

- Mbulelo Baloyi