BBL PARTICIPANT: Nonhlanhla Khoza, Motetema, Limpopo Province
In a Nutshell
Miss Nonhlanhla Khoza is eighteen years old. She farms with her father who trained her by way of the Phinda-Phinda system. She is planning to study agriculture at university.
My father has been farming on this land around the Motetema Clinic since 2016. Before that he was a truck driver, but I think he likes this way of life better. Over the years, he has built up a reputation for good quality, low-cost vegetables and people come from all over to buy. Some of those who buy are patients at the clinic, but we have also put up posters all over town advertising our product so many of the customers are just ordinary, healthy people who know that this is the place to get great tasting, inexpensive vegetables straight from the soil.
My dad did the MyFood training and then he taught me. With SocioTech the rule is that you get trained and then you train others in a system called Phinda-Phinda. I was his first Phinda-Phinda. I remember that the first thing he taught me was how the drip irrigation system works. He also talked to me about the trench bed system. Our place here at the clinic is too big for trench beds in the sense that people use them in small home food gardens, but we have used the same principles to improve the soil.
My dad didn’t stop when he had trained me, he has trained many other people who are starting out in farming. I often go with him and help because when you go into environments that are different to yours you always learn something new. I am helping to teach but, in the process, I am also learning. Seeing different people with different solutions is what life is all about. I want to be a farmer (I am planning to study crop production at university) so I regard it all as a learning experience.
I understand that farming is hard work, but I love it. People say: “How can you farm when you are a girl?” Or they ask me: “Is your dad pushing you and making you do all this farming?” I tell them: “No. Being a farmer is for everyone. Not only men. It is my dream. It has been my dream since I was in grade 8.” I don’t mind when they say foolish things because I know that one day, I will have a big farm of my own. I see myself on that farm, providing jobs for people. In my mind, I see a long queue of bakkies coming to buy from me. I see myself with a truck delivering to big shops.
I have learnt such a lot from working with my father. Many of the lessons I have learnt apply to other areas of life not just to farming. When you plant a seed and watch it grow, that is the same as if I do my maths homework. I won’t see the results today but when I do my final maths exam, the marks will reflect the effort I put in earlier in the year. Farming is not easy. It has taught me to deal with disappointments – sometimes you plant, and you nurture and just when you are about to harvest hail comes and destroys the crop. Or pests. Our tomato crop is very vulnerable to pests. Learning that problems are part of life is a tough but necessary lesson. Business comes with a lot of disappointments on the way to success. Knowing that temporary setbacks are not the end is important. Keeping your eyes on the long-term goal is what matters, even when something goes wrong in the short-term. Keep the vision. Keep inspired and motivated no matter what.