ANDILE MATUKANE, 24, FOUNDER OF FARMERS CHOICE
Andile was born in Bushbuckridge and studied at the Lowveld College of Agriculture in Mpumalanga. She also holds a diploma in plant propagation from the Tshwane University of Technology. She’s completing her masters in plant pathology.
What drew you to agriculture?
I wanted to be different so I stayed away from medicine and engineering. I felt that agriculture was one way of being different and giving back to the community by developing and transferring skills to the youth.
What does it mean to be an agripreneur?
It’s learning about the field and changing people’s lives. To me, it’s more than farming – agriculture is a way of giving back because I also help graduates find internships and placements in this industry.
How has your business journey been?
In December 2017 I moved to Magaliesburg in Gauteng to start my own production business. I connected with a family who owned a farm that they weren’t using – that’s how I got land. Earlier this year, I started my own company, Farmers Choice. My aim is to develop and transfer skills to people interested in agriculture, to assist upcoming farmers by mentoring and coaching them. We offer AgriSETA accredited short courses, and we’ve partnered with Nelspruit-based company FarmGro to help facilitate the courses. Farmers Choice produces spinach, cabbage and onions, as well as dry beans. We supply Spar and Food Lovers around Gauteng.
What challenges do you face as a black woman in agriculture?
Getting funding is difficult. I had to use my own savings to get started. If you want something, you must invest in it yourself. Finding land is also a challenge. The process can take up to two years.
Your advice to aspiring farmers?
For every business to be successful, you must invest in it and be very committed. We can do it if we focus on the big picture.