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What farming has taught me about life.


Mbali Nwoko - 24th Jun 2020 - 15 comments

If you have ever read somewhere or had someone tell you that farming is not for the faint-hearted, take it from me, it is not. As much as the idea of farming may seem glamorous, being out in the fields and doing what you love, certain challenges can test you as a farmer making you question why you even began farming in the first place. 

I have been in the agricultural industry for over four years now and I can defiantly say that farming has taught me so much about life that I often joke to those closest to me that, its as if I’ve had a decade worth of personal growth over these few years. Furthermore, curious individuals have often asked me what key lessons have I learned since I started farming and below are some of the three lessons that top my list:

1. You are not in control.

This has been a hard pill for me to swallow, as I thrive at being in the driver’s seat by leading and taking charge. However, having gone through a personal loss at the peak of my business life cycle and recalling the days when I would arrive onto the farm to find my crops destroyed by frost or severe hailstorms, all of the above have proven to me that I’m not always in control. Even though some elements of our lives are within our reach, there is also something greater than us as individuals that neither of us can compete with and we don’t always have the final say, because things happen to us in life to either teach us a lesson or save us from something. 

2. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

I’m not the kind of person that would typically ask for help for just about anything. I have this ridiculous notion that if I do ask for help, I’d be inconveniencing people with my problems, and therefore I just refrain from doing so. What my experience in the agri industry has taught me is that farmers do not operate in isolation and its OK to ask for help, because no single farmer possess all the answers. Even though our businesses may compete to some degree, we are still a community at the end of the day. 

3. It’s ok to start over.

Besides being naturally driven and somewhat a perfectionist, I typically have very high standards for myself that when I perform and deliver below expectations, I become my worst critic. In the past, I’ve had to replant crops as a result of unfavourable climatic conditions setting me behind financially, fire key clients that I thought were good for business but really weren’t and I’ve also had to restructure my staff compliment a few times, for several reasons. As difficult as all this may have been, I’ve become content with having to start over and correcting whatever is not aligned with the overall business goals and objectives. 

In summary, there is infinite potential that lies behind our insecurities and if you are a farmer reading this, I would love to hear your experience, therefore feel free to comment on this blog. 

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15 comments

  1. Kgotlello

    My dad has been a farmer my whole life and I have been going back and forth scared to fully join him and brother, I’ve been wanting to do this since 2017 but still fighting with myself if it’s the right thing for a woman.
    You have truly eased my fears to take this step with confidence.
    Thank you so much for all the information you sharing its helping me a lot.

    • Mbali Nwoko

      You will never know until you try Kgotlello. What are you scared of, you are fortunate to have family that has already started the journey for you and therefore they will give you all the support you need. Go for it!!!! 🙂

  2. Hilary

    This is really insightful and informative from you. I agree with you in various frontier, apparently I am a young aspiring farmer and I can relate with some of the issues you have raised above.

    I remember few months ago, I had just established various nurseries and was really was excited as I looked forward to planting cycle only for the heavy rains to destroy almost everything which set me back to square one.

    Nevertheless, I still believe agribusiness is rewarding with effective planning and implementation. You get to learn alot for sure but it’s also really tough journey as well.

    NB: I really enjoy reading your articles Mbali, I find them inspiring and informative.

    • Mbali Nwoko

      Thank you Hilary, the setbacks are real however they make you more resilient as a farmer and you learn a great deal in the process. Don’t give up on your nursery, it will be a success.

  3. Kevin

    Great insights. As much as your lessons are tailored toward farming, you are also speaking truths about life itself. I’m not a farmer (yet) but I do benfit from your authenticity which will no doubt help me in the future of farming.

  4. Mbali Nwoko

    Thank you so much Kevin.

  5. Justice

    I can not qualify myself as a farmer yet but I love the idea. I like your statement that “there is infinite potential behind our insecurities”. I tried my hand at fish farming due to the fact that I grew up fishing with my dad in the 90’s and the first batch was a disaster. My nephew who happens to be mu business partner has not taken it well because he wanted to blame “someone” for that financial setback but then again in one of your articles you wrote there that “U ARE NOT IN CONTROL”. Nevertheless, I have learnt that passion for farming will and can sustain someone to carry on after asking yourself why one is in it!
    I can stare in the waters for hours without getting bored…but that is not enough to fuel me to institute a profitable business in fish farming. I guess I still am trying to find that spark! My 2 cents’ experience.

  6. Hi, we are small emerging farmers based in limpopo. Can you please provide us with detailed information. We are currently operating on our own and without financial support and the market to sell our products.

    Please come forward with the information.

    Regards
    Simon Malatshi

  7. Nonti

    Hi Mbali, I have been procrastinating for ages too. But nonetheless I’ve decided after following your page to take that leap. I am starting real small and will try with one crop and have that help me overcome my fears, I particularly worry about how to find business, as in who to sell to once ready.

    I am ready I’d say, please keep posting on your pages it really helps to ease the anxiety when I see you out there go getring! Keep it up, you have lots of us following suit.

    • Mbali Nwoko

      One step at a time and I’m glad to hear that you have made the decision to start!
      Thank you for your feedback and good luck.

  8. I would like to volunteer to work in one of your farm. I want to gain experience 🙏
    I’m law student but I’m also interested in agri industry. My cellphone number 0734577471

  9. Thabiso

    Hi Mbali, thank you for all the information it was really helpful. i am not a farmer yet, but i have a dream of becoming a livestock farmer one day. i am still on the research phase because there is so much to learn. What advise would you give someone like me? and on a personal one, how much did you spend on your first farm?

    • Mbali Nwoko

      Hi Thabiso
      Thank you for your message and feedback.
      Please read up on the Sernick Group and Bonsmara Association as addional resources for Livestock farming.

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