When Solomon Masango became the Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year in 2015; he became the owner of a brand-new John Deere tractor. Soft-spoken but determined, Masango farms near Carolina. Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, is inspired by this stalwart, who values mentorship more than money.
“Mechanisation is a sizable investment,” Sithole says. “Tell me more about how you got your first tractor.” Solomon Masango confirms he believes planning is vital to farming success. “At first I only owned second-hand tractors, but when I received the award in 2015, I also received my first brand-new tractor. This was a great honour.”
He says he invests his profit back into his business. “It is important for me to push myself and continuously grow my business.” He believes new machinery is a good investment, since it breaks down less and saves him time in the harvest season.
Admire Mutsvairo, Manager of Projects and Strategic Planning at John Deere Africa and Middle East, agrees. “Planning and record keeping are good friends,” he says. “We want to sell the best possible equipment to our farmers – to do that, we need farmers to keep accurate records so that we can make a good product recommendation.”
Mutsvairo says good record keeping is one of the keys to sustainable farming. “A farmer has only one opportunity to plant and to do it right. What happens on his farm today will have an impact on decisions he makes in the future. Equipped with the correct information, we can help a farmer to set up a fleet that will maximise his yields, as we will also be able to set his equipment’s application accurately.”
Mutsvairo believes planning is very important in maintaining your current fleet as well as expanding it. “Machines have to be serviced regularly before the harvest season. It is essential to plan when to service your fleet so that you are ready for the next season. This will reduce downtime and lead to better yields and profit.”
He says buying new equipment is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. “It is crucial that a farmer understands exactly what he wants new equipment to do, so that the dealer can help him or her select the best possible solution.”