ANDILE MATUKANE, 24, FOUNDER OF FARM­ERS CHOICE

True Love - - CELEBRATING LIFE -

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.

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