The participants of Cape Flora’s two day business skills workshop ranged from being industry stalwarts…
Michael Mxokozeli started farming in 2006 in the Grabouw area with three pigs and 20 chickens. By 2010, he stopped farming with chickens, and focused on his pig production, which had grown to 32 pigs. In 2012, the farming business was registered as Iqhude Supply and Farming (Pty) Ltd, and the members included Mr Mxokozeli and four family members (two male and two female), who at the time were all youths. In 2013, he had 252 pigs, and encountered problems with the space required to grow his business. That year he met Francis Pratt, owner of Riverside Farm, located about 30 km outside Bredasdorp, who was putting his farm on the market. Michael approached the Landbank for a loan to buy the farm, but unfortunately, he did not meet the requirements to obtain the loan. He then approached the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs (DRDLR) for help with the purchasing of the farm. The DRDLR, however, requested him to register his company’s name on their database to become a candidate to be settled on a Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farm. DRDLR then acquired the farm through the land reform programme under the PLAS. He was selected to attend an interview as representative of Iqhude Supply and Farming (Pty) with DRDLR, and he was chosen as a caretaker of the farm, where a one-year lease was signed in February 2016. Subsequently, a 30-year lease agreement was entered into with DRDLR.
The resources (farm)
The farm of 1 238 hectares was previously owned by a commercial farmer, who farmed with livestock, flowers and game. The current commodities are small-grain production, sheep and wool, cattle, fynbos, and rooibos tea. A river flows through the property and they have water rights. In winter they pump the water to a storage dam from where they can irrigate under gravity.
The farming operation is diversified and includes sheep, cattle, dryland fynbos, irrigated fynbos, and rooibos. Until 2018, the enterprise-focused on small-grain and livestock production, but it was decided to establish permanent pastures and fynbos under irrigation. In 2017 rooibos was established to move away from the vulnerability of cash crops like wheat, barley, and oats. The area is suited to fynbos and
rooibos tea production and this supports the farm’s financial viability. The permanent pastures are complimentary to the livestock enterprise in the dry season and help to sustain the cash flow during the year.
The learning curve
The rest of the members of the company studied at the Elsenburg Agricultural College and always worked on the farm during the college holidays. Phosiza Mxokozeli, Thandiwe Mxokozeli, Thamsanqa Mxokozeli and Simthembile Mxokozeli are all committed to make a success of the business. As far as training and capacity building is concerned, Thamsanqa has an animal production qualification from Elsenburg. He works and learns with Chris van Schalkwyk, whom they appointed as a business coach to support the project. Simthembile oversees the livestock enterprise, the financial records, and bookkeeping. The two female members focus on plant production, and their capacity-building career path will focus on the fynbos and flower industries. Their plans are to get working experience in the fynbos production enterprise, working experience at the packers and processors, and a period of exposure in the Netherlands at the fynbos/flower markets.
A business coach option
Although they had a mentor, they also appointed a business coach who assisted them with planning and implementation, and cash flow projections. In the beginning, he worked full-time, but as their knowledge and experience grew, he was slowly phased out. Currently, they employ him for a few hours per week to help them. This has ensured that the business is growing continuously and is sustainable. Iqhude Supply and Farming started from humble beginnings but has developed into a prosperous and sustainable family business due to hard work and family members believing in their abilities to grow the business.