Lungi Robela started Robela Farm in 2009 and cultivates vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli in winter, and cucumbers, tomatoes, and sweet peppers in summer. Her farm is 17.123 hectares and has 32 greenhouse tunnels and an open field for farming throughout the year.
Some of Lungi’s staff each have five tunnels to take care of. “Staff with tunnels need to remove any weeds, side shoots, and make sure the water drippers are functional on a daily basis”. Those without any tunnels have other duties. “Spraying duties, water and fertiliser applications and weighing/counting the crates during the harvest period,”
Lungi’s family had a small farm and she enjoyed feeding the animals and planting seeds, but did not enjoy her corporate job in the hospitality industry. “I decided to try out the agricultural industry full time with the support of my mother and I have no regrets.” As much as Lungi adores planting seeds and seeing them grow into a fruit or vegetable, she is also responsible for the entire operation. “I like tackling challenges head on and making sure the business stays afloat.”
Lungi currently employs 13 permanent and six seasonal workers.
Being a farmer has led to Lungi dealing with receiving a few stereotypes such as: “People assume that farmers are uneducated or live in total exclusion from modern life.” Another misconception people have of Lungi is that she is always dirty, because farmers work with dirt.
Lungi is part of the 2019 SAB Urban Agriculture Programme, where she hopes to learn about the benefits and functionality of hydroponic systems, more about greenhouses, and would like to expand her knowledge about agriculture.
Now in its second year, the Urban Agriculture Programme invests in high potential farming businesses, by integrating technology solutions that will grow the businesses and create lasting employment.
The 15-month business development programme provides participants with technical and operational training, hydroponic infrastructure investment, industry-based mentorship, as well as market access.
Some info on SAB Kickstart
Powered by SAB’s flagship youth entrepreneurship programme, SAB KickStart, the Urban Agriculture programme, which aims to identify and invest hydroponic technology into high potential farming businesses, has announced nine finalists who will receive training and investment to grow their farming businesses.
With Stats SA in October revealing that unemployment was at its highest level in 11 years, the programme aims to help create jobs through youth owned farms. Black African women are the most vulnerable, facing an unemployment rate of 34.5%, compared to black men with an unemployment rate of 31.3%. “We are happy that five out of the nine finalists are young black women,” said Phumzile Chifunyise, Enterprise Development Manager, SAB and AB InBev Africa.
An Enterprise Development programme, SAB KickStart is aimed at youth entrepreneurs aged 18 and 35. The programme has been running since 1995 to develop, invest, and grow revenue generating youth businesses in order to create jobs. Now in its second year, the Urban Agriculture programme invests in high potential farming businesses, by advancing farming businesses with technology that will grow the businesses and create lasting employment.
“As an organisation that is imbedded in agriculture, our intention is to attract young people to the sector by alleviating the high barriers to entry such as technical and operational resources.”
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