Rural tobacco farmer Nndweleni Mankhili of Makonde inspects some of the crops in his field.
“Luphumo lu mavuni” (Wealth is in the soil). This is the expression uttered by Nndweleni Mankhili of Makonde-Tshilulu village about his tobacco plants, a very unusual type of crop in the rural villages. This is the type of farming that is usually done by commercial farmers in zoned farming areas.
Though Mankhili does not supply his tobacco to the big and professional markets, he sells the dried tobacco leaves to local individuals who crush them to produce snuff.
A veteran insurance broker, Mankhili says he wakes up at 04:00 every day. “I have trained myself to wake up very early to work in my field before engaging myself in my daily chores as an insurance broker. I make sure that my tobacco is well cared for because this is the type of crop that needs a lot of daily attention. I make sure that I return to the field at sunset to check if something did not go wrong during the day.”
He says he fell in love with crop farming while at school. “Although I excelled in mathematics and Afrikaans, I fell in love with agricultural sciences, especially the practical part of it. My happiest moments were when teachers sent us to the school gardens to do practical work. I never thought that the love of agricultural science would one day become the inspiration for my farming career.”
He said the land on which he was currently farming at Makonde-Lufulalunwe was a family plot that his forefathers worked and produced crops on. Although Mankhili admits that farming has many challenges, they do not supersede his interest in the trade. “Farming is a very challenging but interesting activity and if you are not dedicated, you can easily backslide. Most of my farming profit ends up paying for the costs to take care of the tobacco, but it is better than doing nothing at all.”
He encourages other community members to do something that can bring a little cash to their pockets. “Many people would argue that there are no jobs. I beg to differ somewhat with them because we can create our own jobs. There are many ways to kill a cat and we can do something that can change our lives for good. I also encourage young people to consider farming because it creates jobs and adds value to the local economy.”
Date:14 March 2020 - By: