How to overcome cash-flow problems

Nonhlanhla Gumede-Shabalala, a sugar cane farmer in the Eastern Cape, gave up her corporate banking career to pursue her passion. Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, is inspired by the success of this 36-year-old female farmer in an industry that is still dominated by males.

“It is amazing what Nonhlanhla, still so young, could achieve. She had the guts to step into an industry dominated by males and still find a way to achieve success,” Sithole says. Gumede-Shabalala discovered her passion for farming when her father, Mahlakaniphana, asked for her help in 2010. It was a hard year for him, as he battled to survive amid a drought. “Nonhlanhla came and made a big difference on the farm,” he explains. “She worked hard to assist me in keeping the business afloat.” 

Cash flow is usually one of the greatest challenges in trying times. It is difficult to find a balance between creating a stable long-term income and having some much-needed cash at hand.

“Cash is the lifeblood of any business,” says Sylvester Lubambo from Lemang Agricultural Services. Cash flow can make or break a business, and is probably the most important aspect of financial management. 

Planning is essential to managing any farm, and completing a cash flow budget is an excellent tool. In the sugarcane industry this is particularly important. “Suger cane farmers really need to do proper financial planning and manage their budget tightly,” Lubambo says. “Make sure you talk to your lenders and align your repayments with your crop cycle and yield.” 

He says diversification can also bring relief to cash-flow problems, especially when planting seasonal crops like sugar cane.

“When you get an opportunity to diversify, grab it with both hands.” Moreover, he believes partnering with the right role players will bring you far: “They will be able to assist you with financial, technical and managerial advice and help you grow.”

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