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KZN farm manager wants more young people to take an interest in farming

05 October 2018 - 07:00 By Thango Ntwasa
Andile Ngcobo manager of Tusokuhle Farm in Pietermaritzburg.
Andile Ngcobo manager of Tusokuhle Farm in Pietermaritzburg.
Image: Supplied.

Andile Ngcobo wants to change the way people view agriculture to ensure more young people see farming as a viable career choice. The 22-year-old is the manager of Tusokuhle Farm in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, which supplies produce to a number of charities based in Durban.

Inspired by the work done every day at Tusokuhle Farm, Ngcobo began to share the details with others – which elicited a unexpected positive reaction.

“It was not necessarily from the amount of likes that I got but the comments I received. I started to realise that a lot of people aren’t actually exposed to this kind of thing, so I started to share things that happen daily to try to change perceptions,” says Ngcobo.

He says he has noticed that younger people in managerial positions – like himself – often struggle with working with an older or more experienced team. The best way to deal with such a situation is to listen and learn.

“You may have theoretical experience but nothing surpasses the practical experience that the elderly have from consistency, failures and breakthroughs.”

Ngcobo is concerned about the price of local produce. International companies offer produce at a mark-up, which often pushes local farmers such as Tusokuhle to up their prices too. “When you walk into a shop you look at the price of a product first before you actually look at the nutritional value.”

To change this, more young black farmers need to be included, he says. There also needs to be a regulated funding model and vigorous marketing.

“Mentorship and skills development platforms are lacking terribly and these would be beneficial for the support of smallholder farmers.”