Farming is normally regarded as the preserve of older citizens as it takes a thorough dosage of patience to yield any results. But a new wave of young agro-entrepreneurs has emerged at a crucial time when international development agencies are lobbying for younger people to take to the fields.
Almost 85% of global youth live in urban areas where food production has created massive employment possibilities. While this sector is one of the main income-generating opportunities for youth, the resistance of the young to engaging in agriculture has been worrying.
The United Nations believes that many young people in Africa discard farming when they migrate from rural to urban areas in search of employment.
Photo by Michael Mokime
But for 30-year-old agro-entrepreneur Michael Mokime, from South Africa, providing employment for young people can successfully be enabled through farming. His dream is to inspire the youth brigade to venture into farming as it has improved his living standards in a tremendous way.
Having sold his livestock in order to fund his farming business, Mokime has no regrets and is actually buoyed by that move.
“I grew up in a farming environment, and I saw the potential that agriculture had when I was still very young. As we all grow old, we discover something that excites us which forms the core base of our career choices. For me that thing was farming, and I had no second thoughts about what I wanted to do for a living. My parents owned a farm, so farming came naturally for me,” he says.
Mokime started his farming business in the John Taolo Gaetselwe district in the Northern Cape in 2013, and it has been fully operational since then. To add professionalism to his venture, he decided to name the business – Bolimi Bokamoso.
”Having sold some of my livestock, I set up a startup farming business that deals in the rearing of sheep, cattle, and poultry. I also do produce farming. It is great to note that I started receiving some returns just a year after the business kicked off. This all just proves that you do not have to wait long for profits if you do what you love doing,” he divulges about his farming interests.
The Northern Cape is well known as one of South Africa’s largest sheep farming provinces. This has been a great ladder for Mokime to get recognition throughout the country, which in turn has boosted his farming strategy.
“Many young people believe that farming is all about digging and getting dirty. No, it is a lucrative business that anyone can take on with the right skills and guidance. It is also very possible to run because all you need is land, livestock feed (for animal production), seeds, labour, and fuel. Once you have all of that, then you are in business and you can only hope for a good yield,” he states.
Besides being one of South Africa’s few young farmers, Mokime provides training and mentorship for many emerging farmers, including agro-processing and wholesale trade. In a country that has surging unemployment figures, he also provides both full and part time employment to many young people.
So professional is his organization that he has a farm manager, a marketing manager, an administration clerk, and a driver. Many farmers prefer eliminating these as a way of cutting costs and often end up ruing their bad decisions.
Mokime attests that delivering his produce and livestock to consumers on time is of paramount importance as it keeps him in business.
“Time is very important in farming because no one wants to do business with a farmer who never delivers on time. Constant delivery guarantees recognition, as a result you get more work coming your way,” admitted Mokime.
As a parting shot, Mokime believes that young farmers should not fear the challenges that lie ahead but rather focus on putting their work out to the masses. With a successful farming business such as his, such wise words can surely lead others to good careers.
Photos: Michael Mokime
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