Farming profitably on leased land

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Richard Mashinini’s cattle herd has grown from 12 animals when he started farming in 2012 to the current herd of 100 Simbra-type beef cattle. Photo: Annelie Coleman

Richard Mashinini is a businessman from start to finish. He believes in adding value to every part of his farm. For him, this is all the more important as he operates 460 ha of leased land.

Mashinini runs a mixed farming operation in the Kaallaagte region between Bethlehem and Lindley in the Free State, where he produces corn, beans and sunflowers. In addition, his business includes a beef cattle and sheep business, and he produces chickens. It also launches tenders for potato growers in the region and facilitates the creation of thousands of jobs each year.

From left to right: Richard Mashinini with his five year old son Thabo Richard Jr, his wife Evelina and their sons Mothetwa and Mafafa. Mothetwa works on the farm with his father.

“Agriculture is a demanding activity that requires innovation and thinking outside the box, especially for a producer on leased land. Although I would have preferred to own the land on which I farm, I do not consider the fact that I farm on rented land as an excuse not to make the most of the opportunities that the agricultural sector offers me ”, he said.

Top genetics
Mashinini started farming in 2012 with 12 head of cattle and now has a commercial herd of 100 Simbra type cattle. In order to broaden the genetic base of the herd, he recently introduced a gray Brahman bull acquired from Brandwater Stud, a well-known Brahman breeder in the eastern Free State.

According to him, he wanted to add Brahman genetics for the accelerated growth, adaptability and hardiness of the breed.

Mashinini’s weaners are in high demand, and he recently achieved a price of R9,700 for a seven month wean weighing 280kg.

“Obviously it makes economic sense to market heavy weaners, and that’s why I prefer crossbreeds. My Simbra bull adds, among other things, hybrid vigor and optimal milk production. Simbra’s extensive gene pool in South Africa makes it easier for commercial breeders to find bulls specifically suited to our breeding conditions. My Simbra sire came from Simbra Llewellyn Angus stud breeder in Arlington. The Brahman-Simbra crossing is a win-win situation, in my opinion; good genetics make good profits, ”he explains.

Fattening and recruitment
Mashinini’s SA Mutton Merino (SAMM) herd consists of 400 ewes and seven rams. He only uses stallion rams and bought his last ram from stallion breeder Gerhardus Hartman from Kroonstad. He prefers rams because of their genetic merit.

Mashinini also operates a sheep feedlot, which can accommodate 200 sheep. Feedlot weaners are fed a high protein ration for 10 to 12 weeks before being offered for sale. He thinks feedlots make good financial sense as they dramatically increase the income of the sheep flock, especially at today’s high prices for lamb and mutton.

Eighty hectares are planted with sunflowers, 50ha with dry beans and 150ha with corn. The Free State potato production industry also created an additional source of income for Mashinini’s activities.

Since 2015, he has been responsible for the call for tenders for the sourcing of packaging plant workers for different producers; it employs around 7,000 workers each year for the potato, bean, apple and corn industries for up to six months of the year. Its packhouse teams work primarily in the districts of Lindley, Paul Roux, Senekal, Bethlehem, Reitz and Harrismith.

“I am recruiting teams from our region, from QwaQwa and even from the Eastern Cape. It saves producers the trouble of finding workers and creates more income for my business. This business benefits some 15,000 people all and all, if you include workers’ dependents in the equation, ”he says.
Mashinini studied agriculture at what was then the Boskop Agricultural Training Center near Potchefstroom in 1984. He has also taken a number of courses at the Potchefstroom Agricultural College. According to him, his education played a vital role in his development and prosperity as a commercial farmer.

He is a member of the Kaallaagte Study Group, which he describes as an invaluable source of information that has also played a role in his success.

Mashinini says that the knowledge he gained from the Farmers Days organized by the study group, for example, has greatly helped him make informed decisions on financial matters, animal husbandry and animal nutrition, between others.

He congratulated Hannetjie Human, a farmer from Lindley and a member of the study group, for her contribution and hard work in supporting group members through the dissemination of knowledge and information. According to him, Human is doing everything possible to recruit a wide range of experts to mentor the members of the group. “She is a prime example of the vital role commercial farmers could and should play in transforming agriculture in South Africa.”

Human in turn describes Mashinini as a committed and hardworking producer.

“The fact that he doesn’t own his own land didn’t hold him back. Through his determination, hard work, careful planning and the application of sound business principles, he has established himself as a full-fledged commercial farmer. With more farmers like him, I see a bright future for farming, ”she said.

Failure of land reform
Mashinini is convinced of the inefficient way in which the land reform process is managed. He says farming on leased land, despite its many efforts to gain state support to purchase land, creates immense uncertainty.

As the father of three boys, he would like to give them the opportunity to continue the family business, but not being able to buy the land and get title deeds makes that difficult.

“You never know when your lease might be withdrawn. In the Kaallaagte region there are currently a number of farms on the market. For example, three of my neighbors’ lots are currently for sale. All my numerous requests to the relevant departments of the Free State to purchase land have been unsuccessful. My wish is that President Cyril Ramaphosa read this article and send a special team to resolve the chaos of land reform in our province, ”Mashinini said.

Email Richard Mashinini at [email protected].

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