Overcoming disaster is possible with a little help

For Selina Pinky Hlabedi a passion for farming is everything. “Passion pays a lot, if you don’t have it you won’t succeed,” this Gauteng farmer told Lindiwe Sithole, presenter of African Farming during the first episode of the second season that airs on Mzansi Wethu (channel 163 DStv) Thursdays at 18:30.

It is this passion that also pulled Hlabedi through some tough times at Ba Kwa-Hlabedi Farming outside Johannesburg. “The biggest was having my sheep stolen. I had 100 sheep and 78 were stolen, all of them were pregnant. We only recovered 26. It set me back,” Hlabedi said. However, not one for giving up, she moved all her attention to making her maize and cattle farming a success, even after losing her entire herd of cattle to disease. 

“I had those challenges, but I overcame them by focussing on farming, because I wanted to grow the business,” she said.

And that is what she has achieved, alongside her daughter Dineo who helps on the farm and her son Thabang who is her farm manager. Together they not only farm with cattle and maize, but also grow vegetables and manufacture their own livestock feed. 

Sylvester Lubambo, Training and Development Manager at Lemang Agricultural Services said diversification is the key to Hlabedi’s success. Speaking during the panel discussion he said it helped her to quickly recover and carry on with business.

“When she lost her livestock, she was able to do cash crops as well. She also had grains that she used to make feed, and if she can’t use it for her own animals, she will be able to sell it. So, like any diversified operation, she was able to quickly become operational again.” 

But it is not just diversification that is important, Lubambo also said cash is king. “A business that lacks cash will go down. That is why it is critical to understand the crop you are planting, as well as the cycle of that crop. This way you are able to plan properly and talk to your lenders if needed. It is very important to balance operations so that you always have cash in your bank account.”

It is this type of planning and knowledge that Lemang Agricultural Services offer farmers to help them succeed. As a division of the AGRI group, they give a variety of training to new-era farmers, as well as development choices, technical assistance, and exposure. Through these services they ensure farmers are viable, independent, and economically successful. 

“Disasters will happen,” Lubambo said, “but it is possible to recover.” 

For information: visit https://www.afgri.co.za/lemang-agricultural-services/

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