‘Stand up and hustle’

Sihle Maseko standing in his corn field. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Sihle Maseko of Qoboqobo is an example of a farmer who is willing to put in the effort while hoping for success.

This farmer began cultivating corn on only one hectare of land, which fuelled his enthusiasm for farming.

In comparison to other parts of the Eastern Cape, the Qoboqobo region has a favourable climate and arable land.

“I began farming in 2020, assisting my grandfather on a two-hectare plot; we worked together; now I farm alone,” Maseko explained.

Maseko is armed with agricultural knowledge, which has enabled him to be self-sufficient in farming beginning in 2021.

“Now I have ten hectares of land, I grow maize, and I grow 45 cabbages,” Maseko boasted.

Sihle Maseko holding two cabbages. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Many young people in the Eastern Cape do not see crop and livestock farming as a viable career option, but the number of young people entering agriculture in various provinces is increasing. Maseko battles nature in Qoboqobo’s Burnshill village, attempting to produce food while also creating job opportunities for others.

His failure to pursue the path he thought was his calling provided him with the opportunity to discover that he truly enjoys farming.

“In 2019, I studied Agricultural Management at the Diploma level at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha,” Maseko explained.

Sihle Maseko standing in his cabbage field. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

He admits that he noticed that it is difficult to find work these days, so he decided to become a dedicated farmer.

“We are living in difficult times, and it is extremely difficult to find work in South Africa. After finishing my studies, I applied for jobs numerous times with no success,” Maseko stated.

He reveals he tried numerous times to find work in government and private companies but was unsuccessful.

“Yes, it was painful, but I thought there was a lot of land at home that needed to be used, and even though I wanted to start, I was worried about what to start with, because I needed irrigation equipment and other things,” Maseko explained.

A close-up of one of the young farmer’s produce. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

The unemployment rate, particularly among young people, rises year after year, with no sign of abating. Farming to produce food is the best opportunity for South African youth in these difficult times.

“Stand up and hustle, be active; no one will do it for you unless you try to change your life,” Maseko advised.

He notes that no miracle can occur unless you take action.

“There is no miracle; nothing will work until you begin,” Maseko explained.

Maseko sells between 10,000 and 15,000 cabbages per month.

“I have been selling cabbage to people and supermarkets every month since July of last year,” Maseko explained.