Award-winning farmer Mbali Nwoko showed Lindiwe Sithole, brand-new host of African Farming Season 2, the ropes on how to plant green peppers, Swiss chard, baby marrows and green beans.
One of the most important aspects of Nwoko’s work is helping other aspiring farmers through mentorship.
Sithole discusses the importance of farmers forming part of a larger community with Cobus du Toit, John Deere Export Sales Manager and member of the expert panel of the show. Sithole believes, like Nwoko, that farmers should build a good relationship with the surrounding community they belong to.
Du Toit agrees. “Farmers and service providers are part of a larger community, therefore service providers should also make an effort to understand and be part of that community. If a consultant is not on the farm and in the community, he will not know what is necessary for a specific farming operation to succeed.”
When John Deere supplies a farmer with equipment, he explains, it should be a product that serves the needs of the farmer and provides a solution to the community.
According to Du Toit, farmers and service providers need to understand the power of pulling together everyone in a community. This creates a momentum in South Africa and on the continent that is necessary for the industry to flourish.
“We should be part of this process to feed ourselves and our communities in a collaborative way,” he says.
Du Toit believes one of the most crucial skills a consultant needs to learn is to listen. “It is important to understand what makes a farmer happy, understand his or her pain, understand the worry that the farmer carries.” By doing this, the consultant can address some of these fears so that the farmer can move forward.
“I have an opportunity to be part of a farmer’s journey and take him or her from being an emerging farmer to the next 100ha farmer and to a 1 000ha farmer. This is how I measure my success as a consultant,” he says.
“I need to make sure that we grow together. If I understand where some of a farmer’s challenges lie, I can provide solutions.”