“I have had a passion for farming since secondary school”
On the outskirts of Simon’s Town, Einstein Sibanda has established a two hectare free range poultry project.
Sibanda, who is originally from Zimbabwe, started farming in December 2016 on the lower slopes of Rocklands Farm. He found out about the land — which is home to a Christian campsite and a guest house — through church friends.
One of the two owners of the farm, Paul Rowe, says, “It’s an old farm; about 200 years old, which used to supply dairy and vegetables to the Simon’s Town community.
“I am excited the farm is able to produce again. Since 1975, it never produced anything, because there was nobody to work on the land. I am happy we found Einstein,” he says.
Rowe says Sibanda is not being charged for using the land until his business is established. Rowe’s family invested in the infrastructure and is helping with establishing a market for Sibanda.
Sibanda says that there is not yet a formal contract signed between him and the farm owners.
He says, “I am grateful the Rowes believed in my potential. I have had a passion for farming, since secondary school. I did agriculture as one of my practical subjects at Neshaya Secondary School near Hwange National Park. In 2013, I joined an organisation called Living Hope that runs agricultural business courses, where I trained for four years.”
Sibanda keeps 1,700 chickens, which he bought for R85 each. He collects about 1,600 eggs daily. He sells a tray of 30 eggs for R66; a live chicken (one which is no longer laying eggs) for R60. He says the cost of running his business works out to about R1.80 per egg. Sibanda says he is making about 25% profit at present.
The chickens are not kept in cages but roam outside. Sibanda says “an eagle” on the mountain is constantly targeting his chickens. He says they also fall prey to mongoose and snakes.
Within the two hectare fenced site, there is a chicken shed, 20 by eight metres, made from cement blocks with a roof of iron sheeting and clear sheets to let in light. When it’s windy or raining the chickens move inside. Wood chips are used for bedding.
Sibanda believes there is a growing market for free range produce. But it is more expensive. The feed costs more.
Sibanda says he works extremely long hours, seven days a week. He employs two people; one to manage the compost and its worms, which the chickens also eat; the other, to clean the grounds, feed the chickens, and collect eggs. He has also started to incubate eggs to raise free range chickens for sale.
His future plan is to train others in poultry farming.
Einstein Sibanda in his chicken shed at the Rocklands Farm. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
Published originally on GroundUp