When Sifiso Ntshiza’s (28) parents enrolled him at Zakhe Agricultural School for Grades eight to twelve he had no idea that the move would lead him to a career in the agricultural sector.
Ntshiza is the youngest dairy farm manager in KwaZulu-Natal and has big dreams to have his own dairy farm one day.
As a dairy farm manager at Mackenzie Farm in Ixopo Ntshiza manages a large dairy farm with three dairy sites. The dairy has more than 2 500 cows that produce 60 000 litres of milk a day.
Ntshiza told Vuk’uzenzele that he would not be where he is today if he had not met Judy Steward, the founder of Future Farmers Association.
Future Farmers Association gives young people in South Africa an opportunity to become commercial farm managers or farmers.
During Grade 11 Ntshiza and a friend used to train cows for animal shows.
“One day we were at the animal show in Pietermaritzburg Royal Showgrounds and we met Judy Steward the founder of Future Farmers Association. She showed interest in us and encouraged us to continue doing farming. After matric she called me to find out how I did at school and my plans going forward. I told her that my plan is to do farming. To my surprise she called a few days later to tell me that she had organised a scholarship for me to go and live, work and train on a farm overseas. In April 2006 I was at Schleswig Holstein College in Germany doing my studies,” he said.
When Ntshiza came back in 2007 he worked at Blue Mendel Farm in Mooi River as a dairy manager. In 2010 he joined Mackenzie Farm where he still works as a manager.
Ntshiza said when he joined Mackenzie Farm he faced challenges.
“Working in the farm is like any other job; there are challenges. The hardest challenge I had to overcome was the attitudes of workers especially older men. Older men in farms find it very difficult to take instructions from a young black manager. But I was able to win them over by staying calm, treating everyone with respect,” he said.
Ntshiza encourages young people to study agriculture because there are many opportunities in the sector.
“There is a misconception that farming is only for an uneducated person … which is not true. I have the qualification for my job. The truth is that farming is a highly specialised field anyone can go to,” he said.
Ntshiza said his goal now is to own his dairy farm. KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Cyril Xaba said at the recent Department of Agriculture Summit that there was no reason why Ntshiza would struggle to get funding to realise his dream.
“Ntshiza runs a high-tech milking operation. He was studying Business Management through Unisa to be able to successfully run a commercial operation. I’ve since learnt that he has completed his studies. People like Ntshiza should be priorities for funding,” said MEC Xaba.