The world was thrown into turmoil when COVID-19 reared its head. Jobs became scarce and surviving became the main objective. To survive this pandemic, Ncumisa Mkabile, a 27-year-old from Khayelitsha went into farming despite not knowing how to farm. She read about farming on the internet and then went on to plant spinach as it thrives in winter.
Ncumisa didn’t know that her future would involve farming in any way as she dreamt of working in the travel industry. She thought that if she studied tourism she would travel the world and get to learn more about different cultures. Unfortunately, she did not get the opportunity to work in the tourism industry due to the lack of job opportunities.
With no success in finding a job in the travel industry, Ncumisa started a catering company, but due to the pandemic she had to close it. Ncumisa moved onto plan B and started selling hardbody chicken. She bought it from a supplier and started doing door-to-door deliveries.
“When I saw that the demand (for chicken) was high I decided to be a supplier myself so that is where my love for farming began.”
From poultry farming, Ncumisa moved onto planting spinach. Ncumisa has always wanted to go big on everything that she does, and planting spinach was her next big move as farming is one of the biggest industries. At the same time it is a way to feed the community and country at large.
Ncumisa explains her resolve to help her community: “Khayelitsha is a township, it is a challenge itself, you are exposed to everything positive and negative and the truth is 80% of the time as a child you spend with the community more than your family.”
Despite Ncumisa’s tourism qualification she says farming is where her heart is right now and at this point in time she can’t see herself going back into the tourism industry.
“Not at the moment because I enjoy feeding the nation because I understand that food security is important.”
In this techno savvy world, posting on social media is the way to get the word out there and Ncumisa did just that.
She posted what has now become a very popular quote on her Facebook page, “I planted, I prayed, and now it’s time to harvest.” Due to these words, accompanied by photos of her yield, Ncumisa received a wave of response from the public and before she knew it she had sold out all her spinach produce.
“I went on social media asking for assistance. I didn’t know that my post will go viral. I guess closing the restaurant was a blessing in disguise.”
Ncumisa says that farming was not something that she thought of doing. “Yes it wasn’t something that I wanted to do but I fell in love with it.”
Like all businesses that start out, Ncumisa has challenges of her own, such as the lack of information, and not having enough land because she was unable to produce as much as she would’ve liked to. Ncumisa also doesn’t have an irrigation system because she’s using watering cans.
Ncumisa explains that never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that her farming project would turn into such a huge success and that she would’ve gotten such a response from the public.
“To be honest I never imagined that it will go this far. The attention that I’m getting and the way that I’m touching people’s lives have made me a public figure and people are inspired so that pushes me to do more each and every day.”
Rising in fame and continued success, Ncumisa has become a member of the Khayelitsha Business Forum and also supplies spinach to the local SuperSpar in her area. Ncumisa has had the privilege of appearing on CTV, Newzroom Afrika and Morning Live to name a few. She is also part of the Group 500 Investments, which is a women’s empowerment initiative.
Despite Ncumisa’s resounding success right now, her future aspiration is to someday be a commercial farmer where she can produce and supply fresh fruit and vegetables to businesses and companies all over South Africa while also creating employment.
The pandemic has proven to be a real hindrance in the lives of everyone but despite this, Ncumisa has pushed ahead and overcome her obstacles with grit, determination and a can-do attitude.
Ncumisa’s words of advice: “It will never be easy but never give up on your dreams, there will be obstacles along the way but don’t look back.”
Read about another female farmer with a bright future here
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