‘I’m a BETTER FARMER today BECAUSE OF HIM’
The nominee in the My Hero series that caught the attention of the judges in March, hails from Senekal in the Free State. Koos Mthimkulu started out as an unschooled farm worker and worked hard to become an award-winning farmer.
His son, Mzewakhe who nominated him, says farming is all his father ever wanted to do. ‘His career in farming began when the farmer he worked for (Frikkie du Preez) taught him the basics of commercial farming. Frikkie encouraged and supported my dad to buy his own implements and become a contractor for other developing farmers in the district. This contracting shaped his destiny and put him on the path to become an independent farmer. With the contracting money he could buy tractors and implements and eventually his dream of making a difference to food security became a reality.’
Mzewakhe told SA Graan/Grain that no setback has ever discouraged his father. ‘When he couldn’t get financial aid to plant, he used savings from his contract work to plant his first sunflower crop in 2006. His first attempt realised a yield of 1,4 t/ha. He then used the profit from this harvest, along with income from his livestock sales and contract work, to get the next crop in – this time on 80 ha.
Because of his hard work, sheer determination and will to succeed, Koos became Grain SA’s 2011 New Era Farmer of the Year. ‘He always believed in having partners – people you can learn from and who can guide you to become more than you are. Now he is making sure I become the best farmer I can be,’ said Mzewakhe.
Although he is no longer farming, Koos is keeping a close eye on his son after having handed over the reign of his farming operation to him. ‘He has guided me over the years while we worked together and has imparted a lot of knowledge.
‘As my dad has great mechanical talent, he has always worked on all sorts of implements and even built some farming implements. Now he helps neighbouring farmers with the mechanical side of their farming enterprises as well. He still ensures that all the mechanical equipment on our farm is working effectively. It is wonderful to have my agricultural hero, mentor and role-model with me while I am developing into a better farmer.’