Margaret Lethube Mabulane has carried on her family’s farming legacy.
Although the business was started by her mother, she found herself falling in love with it. Margaret is one of the extraordinary women selected for the Corteva Women Agripreneur Programme – a year-long development programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science’s (Gibs) Entrepreneur Development Academy (EDA)

By Nicole Ludolph

Margaret’s farming journey dates back to 2010, when she helped her mother, Tshitsadi, debush an area on the family farm to clear space for their operation. They started from scratch and Margaret found the process fascinating. This spark of interest became a passion for Margaret. It pushed her to learn more about the industry. In 2014, while she was helping run the farm, Margaret started attending the Tshwane University of Technology to study crop science. Since then, she has managed to expand the family business. She has also invested more in her education, enrolling for the Corteva Women Agripreneur Programme in 2022. Like other women in the programme, Margaret soon realised that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I was keen to meet with different women, who are in the farming industry, to share ideas with them, develop each other and grow. The programme is a huge opportunity for me as a farmer,” Margaret said. Margaret’s Limpopo-based farm is registered under the business name Rea Dira Lehumo. It operates in a village called Elandskraal. Margaret farms cotton on 40 of 100 hectares of farmland, and rotates three vegetable crops on one-and-a-half hectares.

Finding a true connection
For Margaret, farming is an all-consuming vocation. She says her passion for the work she does is so strong that she dreams about farming and wakes up with farming on her mind.
“I’m so connected to it. It’s in everything I touch and I think about it and talk about it. I have become so spiritual about it, that’s why sometimes I think it is my spiritual calling to be in farming,” she said.
Like many smallholders, Margaret held hopes of commercialisation. Her hopes came true in 2017, but full actualisation of her business is still held back by financial and infrastructural challenges.
“The main challenge currently is that we need an irrigation system for our cotton production. We do cotton farming on dry land and our main goal is to see ourselves producing good-quality products with high yield. “But we can’t reach those goals because we do not have an adequate irrigation system.”
Like many South African farmers, Margaret’s resilience, despite the challenges, is closely tied to her deep commitment to the sector. Passion for farming is central to her outlook and keeps her focused on what can otherwise be a demoralising profession. She said: “Farming challenges are varied and can make you lose your way and want to give up. “Many people think farming is easy and simple, but it is as difficult as any other business. So, the passion keeps me strong when I’m losing hope.”

Throwing a lifeline to young people
When Margaret’s mother died in 2020, they created a non-profit organisation named after her.
The Tshitsadi Foundation is dedicated to the training and upskilling of youth and other community members. “She [my late mum] was so passionate about assisting people and wanting them to get more educated, so we created a foundation called Tshitsadi Foundation. It is a non-profit company, and under it, we run a programme called Give A Life.” Give A Life Mabulane teaches the youth more about the farming industry in general, not just the farming aspects thereof. “We assist young farmers who are starting in the industry. We teach them about crop-production, farming and agribusiness. “Most of them are not aware of things like compliance and formal record-keeping and other things in the farming business.” Upskilling is not the only service provided by Give A Life. They also run vegetable gardens and host students. “We develop vegetable gardens for disability centres and for the youngsters who are interested in farming. “We also host students and those who want to learn more on our farm. Currently, we have five young people who are working at our vegetable garden for the experience.”
Margaret’s advice for aspiring women farmers: treat your farming operation like a business.
“You must be passionate about farming because without passion, you won’t survive. It’s difficult, but you must also remember it is a business. You must make it your baby so that it can grow. Farming is not child’s play.” –

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