Thebe founder says farming is “science, complex business”


He bought a farm in 2000 in the Amersfoort area of Mpumalanga.

Thebe Investment Corporation founder Vusi Khanyile believes in farming as “a science” and “a complex business”.

He says farming is something that takes a great deal of time to master and you also need experts to be with you along the journey.

He bought a farm in 2000 in the Amersfoort area of Mpumalanga.

Called ‘Afrikan Farms’, the man’s Amersfoort farm was announced as the winner of the Agricultural Research Council’s National Commercial Beef Producer of the Year in September, reports Business Day.

In October 2018 it received the Pick n Pay Rudd Award for farming progress of a decade.

He farms cattle, sheep, maize and soya beans.

At his Afrikan Farms they have a herd of 2000 Beefmaster-type beef cattle — including 1 200 breeding cows — a feedlot that can manage 400 cattle at a time, 1 300 breeding Dormer ewes and a feedlot for weaned lambs.

It also produces maize and soya beans in a partnership called WeGrow with neighbouring farmers Dolf and Thys Bam of BB Agri.

With close to 5000 hectres of land, the multi-millionaire is also planning to produce pork meat come 2020.

Khanyile told journalist Heather Dugmore that South Africa is not supposed to import protein “when we can produce it here, create jobs and increase SA’s share of the global export market”.

Afrikan Farms in Amersfoort.

“Ask any economist: the ability to produce from the land is as critical to the success of the economy as a blue-chip company in Sandton,” he told Business Day this week.

“We don’t often think of ourselves as impactful or game changers. Yet, I can assure you, we are. We make a potent and vital part of the economy,” he said.

He was raised in KZN before moving to Soweto.

“Having lived in urban areas all my working life, I have always wanted a piece of the countryside, a piece of Africa that I can call my own, my home,” he said.

“As an African I need to belong to the land, to be able to say this piece of land is part of me and as a family this is where we will anchor our roots,” Khanyile said.

They have established a community development trust to help train both farmworkers and farmers.

They also fund a training facility that will provide skills training for farmworkers and teach other farmers how to raise funding and develop transformation plans.

WeGrow CEO Dolf Bam told Business Day that they are currently producing maize and soya beans on 1 600 hectares.

“Last season we averaged almost nine tons of maize and three tons of soybeans,” he said.

Khanyile said their vision is to provide food security for the country.

“At a public policy level the country is saying the right things about growing the agricultural sector and uplifting our people but we now need more successful projects and businesses.

“We need skills development programmes for farmworkers and farm managers.

“Black youths who want to farm, or be managers of farms, need opportunities for training and to be supported. When they come out of college and university, there must be training sites on farms to develop them,” he said.

(edited by ZK, with Business Day)

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