Gugu Mlipha is the SA Agricultural Writers’ New Entrant to Commercial Farming for 2015. She farms vegetables on 6ha in Walkerville, Gauteng, and also runs a vegetable processing business. She has plans to further diversify her business.
How was business this past year?
It was good. We got new clients such as The Maslow Sun International. We also won the Agricultural Writers’ Association’s national award as new entrants into commercial agriculture, as well as receiving local Good Agricultural Practices- (GAP) certification.
What challenges does 2016 hold for the agro-processing sector?
I think that the current drought, high electricity costs and maintenance costs for machinery will be among the list of challenges.
What opportunities does 2016 hold for your business?
The Agricultural Writers’ Association award helped me to gain more recognition and opened the doors to network with other commercial farmers. I want to sign bigger contracts in 2016 and also diversify into game farming; I want to breed rhinos and crocodiles for the export market. That’s what I’m working on at the moment.
How do you plan to sustain and/or increase profits for 2016?
I want to retain my current clients and service them better. I also want to get new contracts, supplying bulk-to-bulk end-user markets. I want to adapt to climate change by putting up infrastructure such as drip irrigation and shade netting on the farm.
What challenges and opportunities does 2016 hold for the agricultural industry as a whole?
There are a lot of opportunities in the agricultural industry. The government has chosen us as an industry that will create one million jobs as per the goals of the National Development Plan, and we are hopeful that government will pour money into the sector to make that goal a reality.
We would also like to see more youth participation in the industry.
By Luyolo Mkentane