Last week I travelled to Limpopo for the first time and my trip was nothing short of amazing.
I finally found time out of my diary to visit my mentor and someone whom I have the pleasure of now calling my friend, Masedi Mohale. Masedi is a commercial farmer primarily producing tomatoes, and baby vegetables (baby marrow, baby gem and patty pans) on contract for an international processing and export company and also sends his produce to the Johannesburg and Tshwane Fresh Produce markets all year round. In the past 8 months of knowing each other, not a week goes by without us sharing best practice of farming production from which varieties to plant, harvesting and how we can best improve our yields where baby marrows and green beans are concerned.
Masedi farms on a 300 ha farm (60ha baby vegetables, over 100ha tomatoes) and has expanded into livestock (300 cows, 300 goats and sheep) He employs close to 100 employees (predominantly female) and has mastered the trade of farming from his father who is still actively involved in the business but plans to retire very soon.
I was just in awe of this young man’s love for farming, drive, commitment and how he has scaled his agribusiness in over 7 years. It’s not every day where you meet a young man of his calibre, continuing their fathers legacy and not only doing it right but growing and expanding the business into a giant operation. Interestingly, I am the first female farmer he has come across and he still could not comprehend how a city girl like myself would choose to farm as a full-time career/ business.
Whilst I learnt so much during my stay, below are the key points I took out of my trip:
- No distractions
- Simplicity (Lean methodology)
Focus – he is extremely focused, and a serious workaholic. You will find him at the farm from Monday to Monday, operationally hands-on and would not dream of doing anything else. He literally lives to farm.
No distractions – Masedi is extremely particular about which farmer networks or farmer days he attends and also whom he associates himself with. He does not get himself involved in the politics of agriculture and keeps his head firmly on the ground.
Simplicity – He truly embodies the saying “doing less with more”. He embraces a lean methodology that enables him to produce more, by being cost-effective and create value for his customers and that’s why his business is so profitable.
There is no doubt that Masedi is the present and future commercial farmer we have in South Africa. My trip to Limpopo was just a reminder that I’m surrounded by a good network of farmers and key individuals from business to corporate, that have a genuine interest in seeing me succeed. Too many who are oblivious or ignorant of black young commercial farmers, I hope I have enlightened you by this amazing story of a young man breaking boundaries and stereotypes within the Agri/farming industry.
Nurture your relationships and surround yourself with individuals that want you to succeed.