Start succession planning from day 1

Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, travels all the way to the Eastern Cape to visit Mandla Mandlendoda and his brother Johnston to experience some of aspects of their large mixed-farming operation spanning a number of farming disciplines.

Much of the Mandlendoda brothers’ success is attributed to their father. “I made it a hobby to follow my father around from a young age,” Mandla says. After matriculating, he studied agriculture, and from there started to build the farming operation. Johnston also has a lot to say about their father and the legacy he left.

“He thought me to get up early in the morning, because there is a lot to do. From a young age I learned the importance of taking responsibility for the tasks at hand.” Mandla adds that their father set an example of hard work that pays off. 

Succession farming is critically important, because time is money on a farm, explains Praveen Dwarika, managing director at Lemang Agricultural Services. “Farming is not a one-day game – it is an lifelong investment. It is our responsibility to equip the next generation on a continuous basis to take over from us.” 

Dwarika says farmers quite often plan only for the worst possible scenario, such as a loved one dying, but succession planning is about more than that.

“Farmers work hard and also need a break from time to time. If your succession planning is in order, you can have that time to relax and a person who is trained in all aspects of the farm’s running operations can take over at the drop of a hat.” 

He is of the opinion that it is never too early to start succession planning. “If you can, start from Day 1, so that come what may, someone can take care of the business and run it smoothly when you are not there.”

Sithole concludes that this should not be a problem for the Mandlendodas, as both the brothers’ wives and children are involved in the farming operations. “Their children are taking a keen interest in agriculture from a young age, and they even started teaching them more about the business side of running the farm.” 

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