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Gone are the days where farming was associated with males only. Go Hustle writer Ondela Mlandu spoke to #BossBabe Mbali Nwoko about the industry she’s shaking up. Yup – Mbali is a commercial farmer and CEO of Green Terrace, a farm based on the east of Johannesburg that produces high-value vegetable crops.

So, how exactly did Mbali get into farming?

Mbali had no idea she’d be a farmer; nor did she ever think she’d have a business in the agriculture sector. In fact, she studied a BCom in Industrial Psychology.

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“I’d met a friend at an entrepreneur workshop and he was just starting his own venture into pig farming… [he was] growing vegetable crops just to be able to afford his piggery farming,” she says. Mbali probed him, wanting to hear more about crop farming and how to turn it into a business. “Having returned home from the workshop, I started researching farming in South Africa and around the globe, and opportunities available to an individual like myself,” she says. Mbali started Green Terrace about a week later and began looking for a farm to rent and start farming.

Being in business is a marathon, not a sprint

“Be content with the fact that you will often feel inadequate, discouraged; [you’ll be] away from loved ones and feel like you aren’t doing enough when you actually are,” Mbali says. She adds that it’s important to allow yourself to grow and be comfortable with change and who you become through the process. “Don’t forget to celebrate the milestones, no matter how small,” she says.

Advice for graduates…

“There are internships and practical work available in farming, but my advice to graduates is to seek roles that are aligned with their career aspirations,” she says. Mbali advises students looking to get into farming to ask farmers for practical work experience while studying or after graduating. “I also urge young graduates to approach organisations that do business along the Agri value chain to broaden their scope of knowledge,” she says.

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Equip yourself with these resources

There is plenty of info online regarding farming, agriculture, food security, and plant and animal production. Seed companies regularly update information on their websites regarding different seed varieties and planting programmes that you can use as a guideline when purchasing their seeds – similar to some international irrigation companies on how to use water efficiently.

 

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The market will always determine what you will farm. Plant crops that your market, customers, buyers are willing to procure at the right price and quantities. You can make money farming cash crops (cabbage, spinach, carrots) or high value crops (baby vegetables, peppers, herbs) however its all determined by your market, irrespective of the size of land you are farming on. Therefore, before you decide to plant ask your potential clients which crops are they in short of and at which seasons, this will help you make an informed decision on which crop to farm and rotate with, to meet your clients/customers objectives. #farmeradvise #farming #cropproduction #cropresearch #southafricanfarmer #farminginsa #femalefarmer #agriculture #landbou #agriadvise

A post shared by Mbali Nwoko (@mbalinwoko) on

Use “imposter syndrome” to fuel your dreams

Mbali is very critical of herself and it stems from an internal drive to want to succeed against all odds. How will you allow Imposter Syndrome to shape your life?

Every industry has its own challenges

“Growth in my industry translates to increased responsibility, more stress, increased capital requirements, networks, markets and resources that are not readily available for just anyone. Growing or scaling a business tends to be an obstacle [more] than an opportunity,” says Mbali

Advice for 21-year old Mbali…

“Never get comfortable with where you are – allow yourself to evolve.”

Passion and purpose

“I have found my purpose in life by being a farmer. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I don’t intend to stop.”

A must-read for every woman…

A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Connect with Mbali

@MbaliNwoko on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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