30 August 2022

Magagula put her agricultural qualification to use and started farming on land she borrowed from Siyabonga Bhila, an acquaintance who also shares her passion for agriculture. The two are working together on building the farm into something bigger and better.

“After graduating, I was looking forward to being employed and applying my knowledge and skills to good use, but I soon realised that things were not as easy as I had imagined. Finding a permanent job proved to be a mission. I was feeling disheartened when I couldn’t put my skills and qualifications to good use,” she says.

Today Magagula, a single mother of one, earns a living from her farm which produces vegetables, which are sold to informal traders in her hometown in Nkomazi Kamhlushwa, Mpumalanga, and the surrounding areas.

“I’m comfortable with the decision to start something for myself. I’m not looking for work any more. I supply local vendors with vegetables, and I can take care of my family and myself.

I’m looking at ways to acquire more land so that I can grow the farming business and supply big markets.”

Creating employment for herself has not been an easy road; it has meant working extra hard to see the fruits of her labour. Magagula wakes up at 4am and starts irrigation and removal of weeds.

“It’s a daily job. Growing and tending vegetables is an important part of our everyday routine to make sure no pest or weeds compete with the growth of our crops. We try our best to keep our crops healthy and alive,” she says.

Farming is not new to Magagula, it’s something she grew up with and loved. “Growing up we had a small garden at home where we planted vegetables and I enjoyed irrigating the plants – not knowing that I would fall in love with doing it as a professional job,” she says.

“I do my part to reinvest some of the funds towards the farm and to save for rainy days when the farm cannot produce vegetables."

The farm comes after Magagula had a short stint in the workplace. She was once employed at TSB, a commercial farm that consists of 845.45ha.

UMPMagagula with Siyabonga Bhila, an acquaintance who made her farming aspirations a reality.

“It was an eye-opening experience. I learnt a lot, especially in terms of communicating with people, solving problems and understanding the running of a farm,” she adds. “I was also recruited by the SANDF for basic military training. It was a challenge and a learning curve for me; I was taught discipline, punctuality and coping in stressful environments."

Putting experience to good use

Magagula, who holds a National Diploma in Crop Production and Bachelor of Technology in Agriculture Crop Science, also secured an internship at the Department of Agriculture Rural Development Land and Environmental Affairs, which she says was very illuminating with regards to new developments in agriculture.

“The internship built me up and assisted me with rendering technical skills to farmers, and to collect, analyse and audit reports for baseline information on rural development related studies and projects.

I come from a family where education is important. My parents tried by every means necessary to make sure we study, finish school, and become successful. Failing was never an option.”

She reveals that farming is not as easy as most want to believe. There are many factors such as weather and poor resources which have the potential to kill the dream of being a successful farmer.

“We do have challenging days when the weather is not optimal for our working conditions, but we try our best to keep going. It’s not always rosy, there are some challenges in working for yourself too.

As a child, Magagula saw herself as a doctor - not knowing that one day she would be nursing and taking care of crops and increasing the production of food.

“I’m content with how things have turned out. The farm gives me the edge and drive to continue doing my best. I have big dreams. One day I would like to team up with other women, and own a big piece of land where we can all work together and create our own wealth as women.”

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures supplied.