Building a piggery with patience & passion
10:44 (GMT+2), Tue, 21 June 2011
David Motshwene, former teacher-turned-farmer, chatted to Mish Molakeng about his 10-year journey toward building a successful piggery from scratch.
Limpopo pig farmer David Motshwene (63) arrived 20 minutes early for our morning interview. As we entered Magga Piggery, he asked me to stay on the disinfected footpath so we wouldn’t pose any danger to his animals. David leaves nothing to chance.
This soft-spoken farmer explains why he chose to farm with pigs: “My father, who was also a farmer, taught me to appreciate farming. And a pig farmer friend of mine from Germany later persuaded me to start a piggery.” And, he adds, he loves his piggery, which today houses 200 Large White and Landrace sows.
Journey to success
In 1995, David, who had been teaching English and mathematics at an East Rand high school, took an early retirement package to fund his pig farming enterprise on land he bought 60km outside Marble Hall. But this money wasn’t enough to fund a piggery of the size he aspired to build. In 1995, it would’ve cost R1,8 million to build a 200-sow piggery.
Patience and passion helped him succeed. Farming isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, he says, “If you want to make quick money, rather look elsewhere. If I wasn’t a farmer at heart, I wouldn’t have made it. I started small with about 50 sows and I grew from there.” It took him 10 years to build his piggery in phases, financing each addition from his own pocket.
Today, David is a proud pig farmer at a modern piggery. In fact, according to the South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO), David is one of the country’s top pig farmers. Qeda Nyoka, SAPPO project manager for developing pig farmers, says there are many black emerging pig farmers, but very few can be a classified as commercial farmers.
David’s primary market is his area’s abattoirs. Every week he takes about 95 pigs for slaughter. His market may still expand. At the end of our interview, a buyer from one of South Africa’s top retailers visited the piggery as he is considering procuring pork from David.
Learning & inspiring
Although David’s farming knowledge would make one think he held a degree in agriculture, this humble former teacher attributes his knowledge to experience and to reading various agricultural magazines. “I’m an avid reader of Farmer’s Weekly and Landbou Weekblad, and what I know today is largely thanks to these publications. Now and again I also ask the experts featured in these magazines for advice.”
And what he’s learnt, he shares with others. He’s sponsored many trips for learners from schools in neighbouring towns to visit his farm for an educational tour. “I’m hoping to inspire these children, and to trigger their interest in agriculture.” He also mentors many emerging farmers in his area. “There are many communal farms around here, and the farmers are thirsty for knowledge, so I make time to visit their farms and share the little that I know,” says David.
His generous nature isn’t only extended to his community. The 12 full-time staff members he employs, most of whom are women, say he is a good boss who’s always willing to go the extra mile for them.
Contact David Motshwene on 011 427 7021.
Rread more about challenges and diversifying, as well as advice and future plans in the 17 June 2011 issue.
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pigs, piggery, David Motshwene, emerging farmer