Sweet success for bold farming couple
03 May 2018 | Web Article Number: ME20189758
A strong agricultural background has helped a KwaDukuza couple turn their passion into a lucrative business.
Mboneni and Hlengiwe Ngqotheni currently own two neighbouring farms that produce up to 10 000 tons of sugarcane and employ 30 permanent workers from the area.
Banking on his agricultural qualification and her childhood experience working in her parent’s large vegetable garden, the Ngqothenis took at bold decision to invest all they had into buying their first sugarcane farm from Tongaat Hulett.
“We had to put down a deposit for the farm, so I resigned from my job and my wife also left her job as a financial advisor at a financial institution and we cashed in our pension funds to raise the money,” said Mboneni.
“With the deposit in hand we applied for and received funding from Ithala to buy a137-hectare farm in 2001. Things went well so we applied for more funding to buy a neighbouring farm. In total we now have 190 hectares under cane and are able to produce between 8 000-10 000 tons of cane per year.”
Operating two farms was not without its challenges for the couple and the recent devastating drought which impacted their harvest was among their big challenges.
“The drought meant that we could not reach the target we had set for ourselves to meet break-even point. Things were difficult but fortunately Ithala extended deadline for our loan repayments,” said Hlengiwe.
The severity of the drought made them realise that they had to diversify their crop production.
“We learned many lessons during the drought so we have started growing vegetables as well,” Mboneni said.
To cut costs the Ngqothenis and other farmers in the area took over the sugarcane haulage process from a supplier.
“Running a farm successfully requires you to have a good relationship with the people in your community. You have to be on the same page with your partners and must be disciplined enough to invest your earnings back into the farm,” Mboneni said.
He was one of the finalists at the Ithala Business Achiever Awards. The awards recognise business achievements and excellence, their contribution to job creation and the growth of the province’s economy.
“We initiated the Ithala Business Achiever Awards project to recognize and reward existing Ithala clients in their role of developing an entrepreneurial province,” said Ithala acting Group Chief Executive, Thembe Mathe.
“In selecting the finalists for the awards, we nominated key clients who epitomise a spirit of entrepreneurship, have a good track record of financial performance, have made an impact in their community and demonstrated innovation and personal integrity.”