Jan 2023

Sugarcane ignites passion in young farmer

Written by Nosihle Shelembe

When Slondiwe Nxumalo (29) lost her job as a safety officer in Cape Town, the Environmental and Geological studies graduate returned home to Maphumulo, KwaZulu-Natal to start over again.Slondiwe Nxumalo (in the middle) carrying eggs with her team of workers. Picture: Slondiwe Nxumalo

She decided to explore opportunities in the farming industry which has always been her passion.

The decision to pursue what she loves has paid off. Nxumalo now produces sugarcane that covers 25-hectares of land and together with her business partner has a 10 000 chicken layer farm.

She also employs 20 people on the sugarcane farm and seven are employed on the chicken layer farm.

“Growing up I would assist my mother to plant mealies, cabbage, spinach, and butternut. Although I was inspired to pursue a career in farming, I ended up studying Environmental and Geological studies at the University of Cape Town,” she said.

When she graduated in 2014, she had a difficult time securing a job and decided to study for a Diploma in Safety Management with the University of South Africa. She completed her studies in 2016 and secured a job as a safety officer.

After two years of employment, the company she worked for shut down and she was forced to move back home. It was during this time that her brother reminded her of her passion for farming and encouraged her to start a business as a farmer.

With financial backing from her brother, in 2019 she purchased three-hectares of land to farm vegetables. This was followed by 40-hectares of land which was for sugarcane farming.

Her vision was to establish a sustainable business but because she had no experience in farming sugarcane, she approached the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for guidance.

The NYDA is a government agency that supports programmes that facilitate and provide employment opportunities for youth. This is to improve the inclusion of young people in the economy, through increased job creation, entrepreneurship, and business support.

The NYDA enrolled Nxumalo in a Business Management Training Programme short course, which helped her identify that she needed to find a target market to supply the sugarcane.

“I approached Tongaat Hulett and informed them that I had a 40-hectare farm for sugarcane. I asked them if they would be interested in taking the sugarcane if I planted it on the farm. The company connected me with a land advisor who educated me about planting and harvesting. The advisor also put me in touch with a contractor who would help me on my journey,” Nxumalo said.

Tongaat Hulett enrolled her in a programme that helps to establish small-scale farmers by imparting them with the skills to grow sugarcane and providing her business with farming supplies.

The NYDA also provided her with a borehole system, which supplies water on the sugarcane farm.

For more information about the NYDA visit www.nyda.gov.za

Contact Slondiwe Nxumalo at 072 763 2231

Share this page