A veteran wealthy Limpopo farmer has inspired learners to seek a career in the field of agriculture especially in these tough economic times when jobs are becoming scarce.

To the people of Giyani the name Churchhill Hlayisi is synonymous with business, especially farming which has been his occupation for the past 57 years.

Hlayisi, 77, was a guest speaker at Ira Thuthani Farm at Hlaniki in Giyani during a visit there by grade 12 learners from two schools Macena High School at Hlaniki and Mafumani High at Homu.

Addressing 13 learners from Mafumani and 50 from Macema in an event attended by various other stake holders, Hlayisi known just as Churchhill or The Veteran in Limpopo said learners should use him as an example that farming pays.

“I was a farmer from a young age as I started a small garden when I was at standard three years ago and sold vegetables,” he said.

He said he started to farm professionally when he bought a farm in 1962 at Siyandhani and to date the farm is in operation.

“I built the first complex in Giyani in the early seventies because of farming. At the time I had 544 heads of cattle and had butchery,” said Hlayisi.

“I have three big farms, a stock farm in Gravelotte and Lenyenye and an agricultural farm in Mooketsi,” he said.

He says as a farmer you determine how much you can make.

“In farming the best paying baas is yourself,” he said.

He said traditional leaders must give land to people so that they can farm and not demand money and that the government must assist communities with tractors for agriculture.

“Some tractors are supposed to assist communities but they are lying idle,” he said.

The Ira Thuthani Farm is owned by Thuthani Rivisi who retired as a public servant in 2017 and the following year he went into farming under the mentorship of Hlayisi.

Rivisi said he was satisfied with the success of the event since he was able to assist learners who were doing theory at school and were able to get the practical part of agriculture.

“I am ready to assist people because I am from a poor family myself and was assisted by other people,” said Rivisi who donated cabbages from his farm to the two schools for their feeding schemes.

He now employs 10 full time workers at his 16 hactare farm.

Rivisi said he did not know what to do on retiring from work when a year before he had Hlayisi being interviewed by Munghana Lonene’s Pastor Strike in his programme Mikondo Ya Tingwzi that interviews people who have made a mark in the community.

“I went to him and he has been mentoring me ever since,” he said.

Other people who also motivated the learners included Victor Khuzwayo, also a retired government official turned farmer and young farmers Robert Mtsetweni, Suprisa Muponisi Makondo and Sam Khandlela from the department of Cooperative Governance, housing and traditional affairs.

Mtsetweni says he was not good in class but in farming he is now successful.

Mandy Baloyi who is the chairperson of the school governing body at Macena High said: “I have not doubt that this has been a learning curve for our learners who are now exposed to different fields in agriculture. Agriculture is important not only for the economy of the country but for providing food security.”

Rivisi says they should have more leaners visit the farm in future and learn.

The highights were when Macema High School principal Themba Godfrey Hlatshwayo unveiled a crack pupil Tshembo Mabasa who was getting around 90 per in agriculture.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2019 released by Statistics

South Africa last month indicated that the official unemployment rate increased by 1,4 percent to 29,0%.

However the survey showed on the other hand the informal sector and agriculture recorded increases of 114 000 and 5 000 jobs respectively. – Mukurukuru Media

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