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March 2021

Louise Kunz, Pula Imvula contributor. Send an email to louise@infoworks.biz  

Ramulondi Petrus Managa (64) was the runner-up in the small-scale maize farmer category of grain sa’s grow for gold national yield competition in 2020. These words by the american talk-show host, oprah winfrey, describe how petrus has undertaken his journey as a maize farmer: ‘don’t worry about becoming successful. Work towards being significant and the success will naturally follow.’ 

Petrus says he grew up farming as his father, Jack, was also a farmer. ‘He taught me everything I need to know about farming,’ he shares about his role-model who passed away in 1978 when Petrus was just 21 years old.

As a tribute to his father, Jack’s name now forms part of Petrus’s own farm’s name – Jacklondi’s Farming Suppliers. This is to symbolise that he became the man he is today because of his father’s influence. The ‘londi’ part of the farm’s name was derived from part of his own name, Ramulondi, a very proud land owner.

His 15 ha farm is situated about 45 km from Louis Trichardt in the Nzhelele area near Dzanani in the Vhembe district of Limpopo. Here Petrus managed to achieve 6,49 t/ha last season using the cultivar DKC 78-45 BR of Bayer. This achievement inspired his Bayer seed representative to enter him and he was placed second after the winner Gardner Khumalo, who was featured in The Corner Post of the February 2021 issue of Pula Imvula.

Petrus believes that if you love what you are doing, you will be successful. This hands-on farmer obtained nearly all his agricultural knowledge from his father. Planning forms an integral part of his farming operation and he believes in sticking to the basics like soil preparation, adding fertiliser and following a good spray programme. He firmly believes in taking soil samples as healthy soil produce healthy crops. He has also witnessed that in this area a mixture of manure and 321 delivers a good maize crop. 

‘I plant and harvest twice a year on 13 ha. As soon as I am done harvesting in March, I plough and then plant again. By June when the cold weather arrives my crop is already grown and there is minimal risk for damage.’

Although he has not yet joined one of Grain SA’s study groups, he was invited to a group once as a guest to share his story and agricultural knowledge. ‘Unfortunately a family crisis prevented me from attending.’ He plans on attending this year and who knows, he may just learn something new there as one is never too old to learn.

Initially maize and a variety of vegetables – tomatoes, cabbages and butternut – were produced on the farm. However, he made the decision to rather focus on one thing. ‘I decided to specialise in maize because this is the product which our community needs,’ he shares. He also knew he could achieve great results focussing on one thing as success come from doing that one thing over and over. This principle is also one which characterised the Chinese American actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee. He once said: ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10 000 kicks once; I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10 000 times.’ 

This approach has proven successful and Petrus says that up to now he has not made a mistake and has been blessed with a good harvest every year. He even supplied maize to the humanitarian aid organisation, the World Food Programme. In 2016 they purchased 30 tons of his 42 ton harvest from him. 

Although Petrus was a full-time teacher until August 2018, he never gave up on the father and son team’s reason for farming – to provide food for the community. He became a full-time teacher and part-time farmer until his retirement when he could farm full-time. Being a full-time farmer means he is more active than before. ‘I am always on the go, working hard. Farming is definitely keeping me young,’ he says.

Petrus is not a dreamer, but a thinker and a doer who sees possibilities around him. After his retirement he decided not to sell his maize anymore, but to produce maize-meal on the farm. Maize is being milled on the farm. ‘People wanted maize-meal, so I made a plan to help them.’ Packaging from 12,5 kg to 80 kg is also done at the plant on the farm.

‘I am currently doing very well, but am running short of land to plant,’ he shares. With his available equipment and implements he believes that he could easily handle 20 ha to 40 ha. ‘This way I can provide even more food for our rural community.’

Petrus is passionate about agriculture and excited to see a third generation farmer in action already. His eldest son, Ramulondi (31), resigned from his commercial job and returned to the area to purchase a 20 ha piece of land where he is farming. His other son, Funzani (26), will also follow in his father’s footsteps as he has already joined his father on the farm, where he is learning from a good mentor who sets a wonderful example. This just shows that ‘a good example has twice the value of good advice’ (Albert Schweitzer). 

Publication: March 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula