From Dropping Out of College To Supplying Big Retailers – Sithembiso Thwala’s Farming Success

Sithembiso spent many years observing his grandmother in sugarcane farming, he knew earlier on that he wanted to study agriculture.

However, when he got the opportunity to do so, he was expelled because of outstanding fees – years later, he turned that setback into a major opportunity.

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Sithembiso Thwala

Sithembiso Thwala was born and raised by his grandmother in the rural KZN villages of Empangeni and Richards Bay. From a young age, he’s always had that special connection with the land.

It was his grandmother, Lindeni Ngcobo, who introduced him to farming and taught him everything he knows today about the farming industry.

He always dreamt of one day sharing his success with her. Sadly, she passed away before his grandson would become a supplier to one of South Africa’s leading retailers.

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His gogo was a sugarcane farmer, and used to watch daily when she was cultivating the land.

“Her passion said it all, that is where I started to fall in love with agriculture from a very young age.”

Sithembiso on his grandmother’s passion for farming

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After matriculating from Tholokuhle High School, Sithembiso went on to study Agriculture at the Owen Sitole College of Agriculture in Empangeni, where he was farming with pigs during his first year.

Due to financial constraints, Sithembiso was forced to drop out.

He then decided to expand his farm by adding crop production on land that he inherited from his late grandmother.

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According to Sithembiso, he ventured into farming because for 2 reasons:

  • After being expelled from college, his back was against the wall, so he was willing to do anything to show society that he wasn’t a failure.
  • Secondly, he ventured into farming because he wanted to feed people, as he enjoys to giving back to his community.

Soon afterwards, the business started to gain traction and he started supplying Boxer with spinach and a local restaurant outlet with lettuce.

Today, he has his own nursery and also sells indigenous and broiler chickens.

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Farming can be a rollercoaster ride….

It hasn’t been an easy ride to the top, he secured an order in 2020 from a local restaurant, and one of the craziest things happened to him.

The next morning, when he went to the field to harvest his produce, he was shocked to discover that his pigs ate all his crops.

He also faces challenges of an improper irrigation system, transportation, and meeting demand since he’s now supplying 7 big supermarkets.

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Sithembiso wishes that the Department of Agriculture and other relevant funders could fund them, as it is hard to get on a commercial level without help.

His dream is to become a commercial farmer in both animal and plant production, and to also employ as many people as he could, so that they could feed their families too.

Make Small Moves While Thinking Big
According to Sithembiso, when coming to agriculture, it is much better to start as young as possible, and make small moves while thinking big.

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And to also not worry about the negativity that comes from the society, as long as you know your dreams and keep pushing every day towards making that dream a reality.


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