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Here is how much a young black woman paid to start her spinach farm

Date 05/03/2021

A young Black woman decided to opt for farming and got to test the ground from having no money nor resources. Continue to read below to see the figures, the ups and downs, the lessons and how she managed to establish her farm.

Image source: online

Her journey to start her farm demanded more than just passion, Gugulethu Mahlangu who hails from eMalahleni in Mpumalanga is now a farmer in Gauteng province, based in the small town of Benoni, got to share her first hand experience.

Here is a brief breakdown of how she started and the steps she took to be where she is today:

Volunteering without any resources

Narrating her story to Farmers weekly newsletter, she explained how starting off as a volunteer in a local farm helped her the much needed experience and motivation.

Image source: Twitter

"The time I spent volunteering made me realise I really did have a passion for agriculture. I also learnt that farming, when done right, can be lucrative,"

"I never allowed the lack of land and resources to stand in my way. I went after what I wanted, compromised, and sacrificed my time, energy and comfort to get where I am today," she says.

Gugu showed determination despite the lack of resources, she opted to volunteer. At that stage, she had decided to step aside from her Agricultural studies at the University of Pretoria and went on a depth career path by volunteering at a local farm.

Image source: online

Trials, failures and errors before getting it right

Mahlangu embarked on a journey of getting into the real life of being a farmer as she completed her volunteering project. The hurdles escalated as she did not know where to start.

Being the ambitious person that she is, she again asked for permission to farm on the land that she was volunteering on. Permission was granted and she started a cabbage project.

Image source: online

Her first project failed due to lack of proper research into the climate changes that her farming project was based at. Her cabbage was damaged by extreme water-log and eventually they died.

"I was so excited to have land with access to water that I never took the climatic conditions and production factors of the area into consideration," she said.

Moving to another trail

After the first failed trial, Mahlangu went on to start another cabbage project this time in a friend's village at Umzimkhulu in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal where she got free communal land from traditional leaders.

Image source: online

Her cabbages were again affected by another huge blow, this time she did not apply a pest control which would have prevented the pests f devouring her harvest.

Mahlangu did not give up instead she toughened up

Considering all her flows she came to Gauteng province and started on a clean slate again.

The farming project demanded money in order for her to accomplish her dreams. She had a plan, Mahlangu opened a small construction company, called GMS Dream House Construction, so that she could start making money and do her farming project.

Renting land to farm and choosing which crops to plant

Although she does not devulge how much her lease for farm land is, in 2019 Mahlangu secured land to rent for a period of five years. Her farm space is 2ha of her 14ha farm that has a water pump and a 2000L reservoir.

Image source: Twitter

She opted to farm spinach and turnip green leafy vegetables on her farm. She plants them under shade netting and in tunnels.

R170 000 000 on top of undisclosed farm land rent amount

Getting her first crop in the ground required a capital investment of more than R170 000. Mahlangu had to spend R100 000 on preparing the land, R40 000 on seed and another R30 000 on fertiliser and herbicides.

Mahlangu also utilized the power of sharing and negotiating. This meant that R170 000 was not enough. She managed to use her negotiating skills and got to hire a tractor that costed R500 per hour to do it for her for R200 per hour.

Image source: online

Price breakdown and estimations

Mahlangu further needed equipment and fertilizers. She used a hand planter to make planting much easier, this tool can cost anything between R2500 to R5000 when checked online shopping here in South Africa.

Mahlangu also had to apply different fertilizers and chemicals to make sure that her land was in good condition, the calcium nitrate and Syngenta’s Gramoxone.

A 25kg bag of calcium nitrate costs R399 when checked online, considering the size of her farm land, bags could be more.

Image source: online

5 Litres of Syngenta’s Gramoxone costs between R1900. 00 to R2900. 00

Minimizing costs

She further applied a pest control and created her own compost.

"I use chicken manure, grass and spinach plant residue. Once it is ready, I’ll apply it during the land preparation phase at a rate of between 2t/ha and 3t/ha. My dream is to be an organic farmer,” she added.

The price of chicken manure for bigger packaging can go upto R850 for 29kg in online stores, it varies with what quality and quantity a person is looking for.

Image source: online

Grass and Spinach plant residue are mostly sold in small sachets at a low price such as R12 and above. It now depends on how many packets do you need.

The demand for her products

Mahlangu needed 1000 bunches of spinach to supply to her agent in a nearby market, at Springs town. This means that she applied most of her fertilizer based on this quantity and used water for such an amount.

The cost of bills such as electricity and paying other staff members as well as marketing her business are all costly too.

Image source: online

She also stated that she is planning to expand her farming, she intends to include green beans, Hubbard squash, mustard spinach and parsley in my crop mix.

Mahlangu had to go and dig money in another field, construction and housing in order to be established. This gives a gloomy picture for a landless person without resources. It also serves to inspire others to get out of the comfort zone and put in extra effort.

Considering how all of these costed her it can be estimated to weigh above the R200 000 cost. Mahlangu continues to be an inspiration, she uses her influence on social media platforms.

You can share with others, leave your views below in the comments section.

Source of reference:

https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/field-crops/go-after-what-you-want-lessons-from-a-young-spinach-farmer/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Farmers%20Weekly%209%20February%202021&utm_content=Farmers%20Weekly%209%20February%202021+CID_cf4f0df81fe5987258a28a741cf02644&utm_source=TouchBasePro%20Email%20Campaign&utm_term=Go%20after%20what%20you%20want%20%20lessons%20from%20a%20young%20spinach%20farmer

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Benoni Black Gugulethu Mahlangu

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