Up close and personal with Lerato Botha

What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?

My father’s advice to be consistent. Also, if you want something done yesterday, then do it yourself. This is probably one of the most important lessons I was taught by my neighbour, Johann van den Bosch.

What would you have done differently if you could?

I have not made a million-rand mistake yet (laughs). But I tend to forget to call a client back or to prepare an order. Because I am young, I think I have the memory of an elephant – but now I carry around a notebook, so I don’t find myself making unnecessary mistakes.

Your biggest achievement to date?

Being able to finish my studies as an agronomist and taking over the farm successfully. My father has already made a success of the business, so continuing to operate sustainably and growing it is important.

Who has made the biggest contribution to your success?

This industry can really knock you down but he has taught me to fight for what I believe in. He has been a great mentor and never treated me as though I was special. I started off as a seasonal worker and worked myself up to where I am today.

What role have your neighbours played in your journey?

There are farmers who have played an important role in the development of the farm from the beginning. We owe most of our success to their generosity and support.

Was it a struggle to get financing? What advice do you have for others in the same position?

Emerging farmers are facing a big challenge in accessing finance. We had to find other ways to fund the business through partnerships. It is important that farmers do their homework and ensure they find the best possible financial solutions. Not all funding is good funding.

How involved are input suppliers like chemical or fertiliser companies, in your operations?

Input suppliers are a big part of an operation like ours and play a significant role in the programmes we have on the farm. Their input is very important.

If you could give the minister of agriculture some advice, what would it be?

She must make support available to emerging farmers in practical terms and not pay lip service. There are currently no deliberate and tangible support, especially for young people who may not have parents who are first-generation farmers to pass on land to them.

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