WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Bite off what you can chew, then chew it well and swallow it before you take another bite. That is something my mentor, Rob Farrington, always says.
YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE TO DATE?
A R300 000 millet mistake! It wasn’t disastrous but I did lose some money and burn my fingers. I’ve replaced it with sunflower.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU COULD?
I think the land transaction is something I could have put more thought into before I committed most of my proceeds to paying off the farm. That put my cash flow under some strain. I don’t regret it, but if I had to do it again I think I would have asked Rob for more time to free up some cash.
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURING FARMERS?
It’s great. Rob is also my neighbour and continues to play a major role in my business, particularly as a mentor.
WHO HAS MADE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR SUCCESS SO FAR?
My mother – she has given me the foundation and sacrificed a lot for me to get where I am. Rob also played a big role and I’m thankful for having him as my mentor.
WAS FINANCING A STRUGGLE?
It’s a struggle for any emerging or beginner farmer. It took me a few years to find a funder. It’s always better to start with soft loans or grants, because commercial loans are hard to access and can be too expensive for beginners.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE?
Focus on impact, sustainability and results. Simplify the department’s services and make them accessible to farmers – particularly technical skills, basic information and access to funding. Streamline the department’s functions and support what works.
WHAT ROLE HAS ORGANISED AGRICULTURE PLAYED IN YOUR BUSINESS?
I am a product of organised agriculture. The knowledge, contacts, skills, exposure and networks I gained then got me where I am in today. We have a strong and vibrant agricultural sector. It’s established and works well, particularly the commercial side. But we need to be more innovative in thinking of how we can get the industry to speak for everyone