EX-POLICEMAN trains young aspiring producers

Published: 2 July 2024


Nkosinathi Duncan Hadebe (61), the 2023 Grain SA/Landbank Smallholder Farmer of the Year, was a policeman before becoming a producer. When he neared retirement, he realised that he had to think of a way to still earn an income because he did not want to sit at home doing nothing. The fact that his parents planted maize reminded him of the importance of farming – and now he is a dedicated producer.

Farming also presented him with an opportunity to help his sons. ‘There are no jobs available in the area and I can now teach my sons how to farm – how to plant maize and work with cattle. This way they can earn an income.’ Nkosinathi has the support of his family and with his sons working at his side his farming operation is growing.

Nkosinathi is a keen cattle farmer and a member of the Eastborn Stockowners Association. Apart from planting 35 ha in the 2023/2024 season, he rents 230 ha of commercial grazing land. This has proved to be a worthwhile investment to grow the weaner production side of the business.

When it comes to choosing a career, farming is usually not at the top of the list for the youth as it isn’t seen as a glamorous office job. Nkosinathi is trying to change this in the Newcastle area in KwaZulu-Natal where he farms on communal land. This year he has taken five young people under his wing and is showing them the farming ropes. He believes that keeping young people busy and close to nature will steer them away from negative influences. ‘They are also the future of agriculture.’

How did you feel when you were chosen as the winner?
It showed me that hard work pays off. I am now even more determined to grow as a farmer and to provide the necessary knowledge to my sons so that they can be farm owners in the future. I believe that perseverance, passion and following advice helped me to reach this goal.

Why do you love farming?
It’s wonderful to be my own boss and to have a job where results can be seen. I love producing maize as I can see what my hard work is doing – I can see the growth. It is the same with the cattle – I can see the progress as the animals grow. The crime in our area is the only bad thing about farming. I have to pay peopleto protect my crop.

Who has helped you become successful?
The PGP team’s input has made a huge difference. When I joined Grain SA, I was planting only 2 ha of maize. This season I planted 35 ha. The meetings and training from the Farmer Development Programme have really helped me in terms of crop production. They have shown the process from the beginning – how to start planting maize and what to do once it’s planted until marketing. That is why I want to help others.

Farm: Communal land adjacent to the Osizweni township
Nearest town: Newcastle
Region: KwaZulu-Natal
Size: Planted 35 ha in the 2023/2024 season
Type: Mixed – crops (maize) and livestock (mixed breed of Brahman and Beefmaster cattle)


  • Joined Grain SA in the 2018/2019 season
  • KwaMhlaba study group

Training courses completed:

  • Introduction to basic maize production
  • Marketing of grain

A mentor’s view:
Graeme Engelbrecht, regional development manager in the Dundee office, says what sets Nkosinathi apart from some other producers is his personal passion for farming. ‘He is very determined and driven, even under difficult farming circumstances where his enterprises and different lands are spread out. This makes management and control very difficult. Much of what he has to work with is rented from others. His growth has been through his own hard work and desire.’