National recognition for successful black farmer
Mavhungu named best new entrant into commercial agriculture
Dairy farmer Leonard Mavhungu of Amadlelo Agri has won this year’s Agri-writers award for best new entrant into commercial agriculture.
Mavhungu had won the Eastern Cape regional award before going forward to the national competition. The award was presented at a ceremony held at Anura Vineyards outside Paarl last Friday.
The event, hosted annually by the Agricultural Writers of SA, was attended by farmers, scientists, economists, journalists and academics.
As the production manager of three commercial dairy farms, Fort Hare, Middledrift and Keiskammahoek, in the former homeland area of the Ciskei in the Eastern Cape, Mavhungu is responsible for about 4,000 cows, 1,000ha and about 100 staff. He is an animal production graduate from the Technical University of Tshwane and has been working for black-empowered transformation business Amadlelo-Agri since 2004.
He joined a total mixed ration (TMR) dairy in Gauteng where he worked for five years before being recruited by Jeff Every, the outgoing CEO of Amadlelo-Agri. “Working in a TMR dairy was a valuable experience that taught me about stockmanship,” said Mavhungu.
When he moved to the Eastern Cape to join Amadlelo-Agri he had to learn about pasture-based, seasonal dairy farming. After a year of training, Mavhungu was sent to Alice to start Amadlelo's first project, the Fort Hare dairy.
“I was young and scared. There was nothing there. But Jeff told me I could do it and that gave me the confidence to stick with it,”said Mavhungu.
He managed the Fort Hare dairy for nine years before moving to Amadlelo's project at Keiskammahoek and to his current position as production manager of three dairies.
Despite his demanding job, Mavhungu makes an effort to mentor students and junior managers. He sees this as critical for successful transformation in agriculture. Amadlelo-Agri's CEO Simpiwe Somdyala said he was excited about black farmers achieving national recognition.
"I see this as a wonderful example of what can be done. Leonard models possibilities for young black farmers and that's what we must work on going forward,” said Somdyala.
In his acceptance speech, Mavhungu acknowledged the support he had received from his wife, Dakala, and the opportunities created by Amadlelo-Agri and commercial farmers who have shared their knowledge with him.
He said on Wednesday he had not expected to win the award. But he hoped individuals from similar backgrounds would be inspired by his achievement.
He commended his fellow finalists, Mbali Nkabinde, a fresh produce farmer from Boksburg, and Wayne Mansfield, a citrus grower from Stellenbosch...