Up close and personal with Maria Tswayi

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Never try to run a business by remote control. You must be where your business is so that you know everything that happens there.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU COULD?

Everything I have done has worked out as it should and I’m happy with this.

WHAT HAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT BEEN SO FAR?

Securing this farm and running my business without the difficulties I used to have on communal land have been my greatest success.

WHO HAS MADE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR SUCCESS TO DATE?

I am so grateful to the four gentlemen I spoke about: Michael Ramohudi, Jacob Kgothule, Reuben Maphira and Johannes Setshego. The Sernick Group, with the help of Patrick Sekwatlakwatla, has also played a key role in my success.

WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS, AND HAVE THEY PLAYED ANY ROLE IN YOUR BUSINESS?

I have the best relationship with all the farmers in this area. They are mainly white commercial farmers. We help one another all the time and there is great respect among us. I have helped farmers find stolen cattle through my connections in the township. And when my farm burnt down, my neighbours were the first ones to show up for me; they held a fundraiser so that I could buy feed. Nick Serfontein sent me a truckload of bales. Without my neighbours, I would not be where I am today.

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE HER SOME ADVICE?

I would tell the minister we need consistency from the department. The support government provides is just not enough, and most of it goes to people who are not even farming. I’m still waiting for relief funds a year after filling in the forms after my farm burnt down in 2020.

HOW IMPORTANT HAS ORGANISED AGRICULTURE BEEN TO YOUR FARMING OPERATION?

I think organised agriculture is very important. I’m here today because of my introduction to organisations like Nerpo.

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