The Guard

The Truth On Board

Aligning farming with 4th industrial revolution

By Emily Setona

SENEKAL- When little Clifford Mthimkulu was assisting his father Koos Mthimkulu at the farm where he was employed little did he know that he was honing his skills for a career in farming, he has since taken over the reigns from his father and keeping his father’s legacy alive.
The Mthimukhulus who are a beneficiary of a farm from the department of Agriculture, land reform and rural development is a true reflection of what the government want to do when it encourages youth to take farming as a career path, thereby contributing to both food security and job creation.

Clifford Mthimkulu is a youth ambassador for FarmSol an initiative of South African Breweries (SAB) through the SAB Thrive Fund, aimed at addressing the growing need for emerging farmer development support.
“As the youth ambassador for FarmSol, my task is to make farming fashionable for young people. Our farm produces non – GMO maize crops for SAB. And Through Farmsol we have a zero interest loan contract that has made it possible for us to achieve the success and progress that Astoria has managed to achieve thus far,” Mthimkhulu said this during a media tour at the farm arranged by DALRRD in Free State.

Koos Mthimkulu who has thirty years of experience in farming has passed down his knowledge to his son Clifford who through his passion and zeal for progress and creating generational wealth has taken their farm to remarkable heights by aligning himself with modern technologies thereby selling some of their products online.
Sharing with this publication the purpose of the media tour on the farm, DALRRD communication ‘s manager Keitumetse Moticoe has this to say.
“The reason why the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development has arranged for this tour at Astoria farm, on this second day of September is because the Mthimkulus are one of the black farmers that our department is very proud of. They have created permanent jobs for eight employees, offer seasonal work to around forty casual workers and have incubated four students from different institutions to come learn about farming on their farm.”
Astoria farm believes in transfer of skills and some of their student interns have to share their experience on the farm as follows;

“As a veterinary science major at the Central University of Technology (CUT) my experience here has really inspired me a lot, I love animals. Here at Astoria I get to work with the livestock and have learned how to treat and handle chicken and cattle,” Jabulile Msibi said.
Sellwane Hlalele from Maluti TVET College Sefikeng campus and Vangile Mhlambi from CUT both echoed the sentiments that this internship opportunity has inspired and encouraged them to venture into commercial farming because agriculture is where wealth can be created.
Echoing her sentiments Isaac Zengele a mechanical engineering student at the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa campus had difficulty continuing with his course due to a lack of funds and was fortunate enough to receive an act of kindness from Clifford Mthimkhulu who offered him the opportunity to work on his farm as a mechanic as he raises funds to resume his studies.

“Isaac’s story touched me; I offered him this opportunity of skills transfer because I was impressed that this young man wanted to work in order to raise money to continue his studies. He didn’t give up and allow his circumstances to discourage and demoralize him,” Mthimkulu said. “I would love to go back and complete my studies and come back to work as a mechanical engineer who fixes farming vehicles and equipment, because Mr. Mthimkulu has truly inspired me because he is a very smart farmer who has learned how to fix all his tractors and farming equipment. Making it cheaper to maintain them” Zengele said.

Mthimkulu says his son has made him proud by keeping his legacy alive.
“I am very proud of my son, he has taken the knowledge that I have given him and taken the farm to the next level. Everything he does on the farm improves on old methods by using new technologies. As a child he used to work hard on the farm and there was no difference between him and the hired farm workers, to keep him motivated I used to reward him. I am very grateful that his passion and hard work is paying off in a very profitable way,” Koos Mthimkhulu said.
Astoria farm has eight permanent employees and 40 seasonal employees.