Selina Pinky Hlabedi is in the fields early, inspecting the maize’s moisture to see if it’s ready for harvest. “This period, June to July, I must harvest, so I’m here checking,” she tells Lindiwe Sithole presenter of African Farming. And with this, Hlabedi demonstrated the kind of dedication that has made her a success. Sithole visited Hlabedi during the first episode of the second season of the show that airs on Mzansi Wethu (channel 163 DStv).
Before establishing Ba Kwa-Hlabedi Farming in Gauteng, Hlabedi worked for some high-profile people such as former police commissioner George Fivaz. But she left politics and public service to serve South Africa in a different way. She now contributes to food security.
Hlabedi has a formidable list of accomplishments in agriculture, including spending time in the USA studying farming practises. However, it was the cattle and maize on Hlabedi nearly 500-hectare farm that Sithole was interested in. There is a herd of 36 cattle, comprising Bonsmaras and Simbras. She also grows maize and some vegetables. Recently she started planting and bailing her own feed for her cattle.
Sithole asked Hlabedi about future diversification and Hlabedi admitted it is extremely important to her. She said she might even bring back commodities she farmed with in the past, such as sheep.
“I am also considering expanding vegetable production so that we are able to package it and supply to retailers,” she said.
But with growth in any farming operations comes growth in mechanisation. Therefore, Sithole asked Cobus du Toit, John Deere Export Sales Manager and member of the expert panel on African Farming, how mechanisation can contribute to Hlabedi’s success in the future.
“With mechanisation timing and planning is crucial, so you need proper mechanisation partners,” said Du Toit.
“The solution for Pinky is in the feed-making process. She’s got primary tillage; she’s got planting and also harvesting. She can use that same equipment to create feed for her feedlot or animals.”
He stressed again the importance of timing. Du Toit explained that should you need to cut the feed, it has to be at the right protein levels. Or if you are planning to bail or forage you need to be there at the right time.
“That is why it is important that you select the correct partner in that mechanisation space,” he said.
“And then of course you must also have the right business partner, someone who can inform and assist you when needed.”
When it comes to partners, a farmer won’t find a better one than John Deere. This company has been conducting business in South Africa for the past 50 years. In 2013 they opened a R150-million state-of-the-art parts warehouse in Johannesburg. The facility serves more than 50 John Deere dealers countrywide.