Self-determination is the driving force behind young Bloemfontein farmer Kanyi Gabiro who sells washed, chopped and packaged fresh fruit and vegetables, all of which she lovingly grows herself.
Her business, SA Fruition (Pty) Ltd, has been operating for six months, supplying its products to local businesses and individuals.
Gabiro (23) has a BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry and is currently doing a MSc degree in Global Energy and Climate Policy through the University of London’s Oriental and African Studies centre.
When she decided to enter the agricultural industry, she set out to secure a voluntary internship. “I was willing to work for free to gain experience,” she said.
The experience of working with farm workers developed her ability to build with her hands and fix problems quickly. She also developed a tenacity to work for long hours in all weather conditions.
According to Gabiro, the sector has few female commercial farmers because of the perception that agriculture is labour intensive.
“Of course, at the start-up level and to learn best practices one has to work in the field. But that does not mean one has to lift heavy loads with a spade or fork. Farming in the 21st century is mechanised."
She started her business by tapping into her savings and loaning some money from her parents. Then she planted low-cost, high-demand vegetables.
Today, she grows peaches, spinach, spanspek, butternut, green beans, watermelons and beetroot.
With the high unemployment rate of young people, especially unemployed graduates, Gabiro is a firm believer that running a of business is a good way of creating an income.
“I would like to see more young people getting involved in agriculture, producing food and creating food security in South Africa,” she said.
“It is extremely rewarding for me to see a small seed that I planted go on to produce three watermelons. But most rewarding for me is making a sale and having financial independence,” she added.