Up Close and Personal with Sbu Zwane

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

To Identify my potential and work hard to get the best out of myself.

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU COULD?

I should have started my own farming business earlier on in my career.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS TO DATE?

I have moved from being happily employed to running my own show in a sector that remains untransformed. It has been difficult to be in the positions I have been in and still be able to do what I do. I see that as a success.

WHO HAS MADE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR BUSINESS SO FAR?

The late Prof Pieter Rossouw had a huge impact on my life, and I remain indebted to him for everything he did to advance my career.

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NEIGHBOURING FARMERS LIKE? DO THEY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR OPERATION?

My relationship with all my neighbours is great. They have not yet made any contribution to my farming business, but we are good neighbours and we all help one another when necessary.

WAS IT A STRUGGLE TO SECURE FINANCING, AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER SOMEONE IN A SIMILAR POSITION?

It is difficult to get finance as a beginner farmer, and even more so in the pig business. My advice to upcoming farmers is to start with what they have and not to wait for government to help.

WHAT ROLE HAVE INPUT SUPPLIERS PLAYED IN YOUR SUCCESS?

Not a big role, really. And this is because I have not involved them much in the business. I have managed to solve animal health issues myself most of the time because of my experience and the connections I’ve made with suppliers.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE?

Please do not use a blanket approach when you try to solve black farmers’ problems. Engage with the farmers and let them contribute to developing solutions to their own problems.

HOW IMPORTANT HAS ORGANISED AGRICULTURE, LIKE THE SOUTH AFRICAN PORK PRODUCERS’ ORGANISATION BEEN TO YOU?

In the pig sector, black farmers have no support at all. Bodies such as SAPPO are not doing a lot for developing pig farmers and this needs to change.

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