Rural Agriculture receives Presidential Award for resilient farming
In South Africa agriculture is central to fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, and improving food security in the whole of the Southern African region. Estimates suggest that more than 70 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods and the Mordor Intelligence report: Agriculture in South Africa – Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 – 2027) suggests that by 2035 the demand for food is projected to double.
A greater demand from a rising middle-class population for food and the increasing need for food security is driving the growth of the agriculture sector and productive farmers are worth their weight in gold. However entering and scaling farming productions, particularly in the rural areas, is not always an easy task.
The 2022 Inaugural National Presidential SMME Awards, established by the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and its agencies, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and in partnership with the European Union and 22 On Sloane, celebrated the feistiness and sheer determination of South African SMMEs.
This year Kevinot Farming (Pty) Ltd, a 100% black-female owned entity run by Nonopa Tenza, took the inaugural award for Rural-based SMMEs. Based in Ongeluksnek farming region of Matatiele area of the Eastern Cape, Kevinot Farming operates a 406Ha farm focused primarily on livestock and crops.
Kevinot is an acronym incorporating the family’s names and surname. In 2017 Tenza and her husband started Kevinot Farming as a side hustle kicking off with livestock and in 2019 diversified into crops. Tenza has since left a successful career in Corporate and Investment Banking and has taken over full operation of the farm. The business operates out of a government-leased farm originally leased by Tenza’s father-in-law more than 35 years ago. After his passing in 2014 the farm was underutilised until Tenza and her husband agreed to start farming the land and grow it to its full potential.
“We are passionate about farming and are serial entrepreneurs who have run several businesses over the years. Starting a farming business was both an entrepreneurial and social endeavour. We saw an opportunity to carry on a family legacy as well as utilising underutilised land to create jobs and fight the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment, and inequality in our area. We leveraged our education and extensive corporate experience in accounting, finance, banking as well as scientific research and development for the benefit of the area where we come from,” says Tenza.
Kevinot Farming runs a beef production breeding herd of F1 Angus cows, pedigree Angus Bulls, mixed Dohne Merino and Dormer sheep and grows yellow maize, sugar beans as well as lucerne and teff grasses. The business started small and has steadily grown to full capacity over the years as the demand for the produce keeps growing. Kevinot Farming has identified the extent of the opportunity to contribute to food security in the country, across the continent and globally and continue to look at ways of operating in line with these opportunities.
Tenza ’s focus since taking over the full reins of the business has been on establishing business processes, market segment analysis, stakeholder mapping and engagement, as well as strategy development and this has led to the business securing a lucrative maize offtake agreement with a large US multinational organisation with competitive pricing. The business has also invested heavily in infrastructure development, growing livestock numbers as well as fully utilising the arable land and is on a path to continued growth and sustainability.
Kevinot Farming has benefitted extensively from support from the Provincial Department of Agriculture through the local extension office, support from SEDA as well as a third-generation farmer in the area who provides mentorship.
Kevinot Farming in turn gives back to the community by assisting local farmers with market access and mechanisation services. Kevinot Farming has not only created permanent jobs but also offers up to 40 seasonal jobs as well as supporting micro enterprises, as some of the workers prefer to be paid in either Maize or Beans to sell to their local communities.
While issues of security of land tenure, access to clean water, electricity and roads, climate change and limited land for expansion are of considerable concern to Tenza and her business, she remains positive about the future of her farm and farming in general in South Africa.
“There is renewed interest in Agriculture from women, young people and people who previously did not have access to Agriculture, our government needs to harness this interest. Agriculture is a way of creating jobs and we need to offer awareness and training around agriculture from grass roots level such as schools as well as training land beneficiaries on the necessary skills to run productive and profitable farms,” says Tenza.
Issued by JT Communication Solutions on behalf of Kevinot Farming – www.kevinot.co.za
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