Although Busisiwe Mgangxela started off as a nursing teacher, she realised that she ultimately wanted to make a living through entrepreneurship and being independent. Mgangxela was also spurred on by her love of nutrition, and her experience in the nursing field encouraged her to channel these skills into farming. Today she runs Hillview Farm in Cambridge in the Eastern Cape.
Speaking to Vutivi News, Mgangxela said that her story was one that began in tribulations but ended in triumph. She and her husband started farming in 2011 in Middledrift as part of a cooperative. However, she felt that the land was too small for her dreams and ambitions. She did not start off her entrepreneurial career as a farmer, though. “I worked in the Department of Health for 14 years after graduating from the University of South Africa with a Nursing Education and Administration qualification,” she said.
“I left the country and worked in Saudi Arabia for two years, and after returning from Saudi Arabia I decided that I wanted to work for myself, so I registered a closed corporation in 2005.” Mgangxela explained that her business provided nutritional food for primary schools. However, the contract did not last as the province’s education department hired a new Head of Department, who effectively cancelled her contract in favour of insourcing nutritional food for the schools.
It was during that time that she met her husband, who then informed her that there was some land they could use to start farming in the rural areas. “We started off with 2.5 hectares and it wasn’t much, so my husband’s relatives lent him to land on which we could farm,” she said. “In that year, we planted three fields of maize, but the land was confiscated from us by the relatives.
“We then moved on and started pig farming, but an agriculture professor from Fort Hare University advised us against pig farming in the rural areas as it would contaminate the waters,” Mgangxela said they were then advised to apply for land with the Department of Agriculture and they began the process in 2014.
During that time, they started organic farming and grew spinach and cabbage, which she started supplying to the locals in the area as well as the farmers. Their application was approved in 2018, but they were only able to occupy the farm in 2020, as there was an illegal occupant on the land who they had to get rid of.
Mgangxela said that they also started farming sweet potatoes, and in 2020, they started farming cancer bush, which is an immune booster, thyme and rosemary with the help of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). “Through their assistance, we were able to manufacture cancer bush tea infused with thyme, as well as cancer bush tea infused with rosemary,” she said.
“We were also provided retail training through Fort Cox College in partnership with Boxer, and our products will soon be sold in Boxer stores.” She said their dream was to sell their cancer bush-infused teas to retailers like Clicks and Dischem because of their many health benefits.