A budding farmer is on a mission to sell 5 000 bottles of olive oil on his planned expedition around the country, which will start from Cape Town. Loyiso Manga, 35, started selling Ubuntu Extra Virgin Olive Oil in December last year and has sold about 1 600 since.
He is planning to visit different towns peddling his olive oil wares, where on his ambitious expedition he is planning to harness social media to reach masses in promoting the olive oil that is produced in the Western Cape.
“It is said a human is human because of other humans, therefore I’m relying on that maxim in my campaign. I will load the oil in the car and travel around the country selling. The aim is that by the time I reach a town, there will already be people waiting to buy the olive oil. However, for now I’m still trying to find sponsors, especially those who can sponsor me with a car that I can load with loads of bottles,” said Manga.
He has chosen to sell olive oil because he wants to be a different black farmer, as he says most black farmers focus on farming and growing fruit and vegetables. He said although being an entrepreneur runs in his veins, but he soon decided that when he does pursue his love for agriculture, he also needed to look at how he could make money.
“I’m the kind of person who’s always thinking about innovative ways of doing things, that’s I saw early that the fruit and vegetable market is saturated and most (people) are doing the same thing. If you can’t be involved in the value chain of production, it means there isn’t much money you can make,” Manga explained.
Olive oil is high-end as evidenced by its prices in comparison to regular cooking oil. Manga charges R130 for a 500ml bottle. He concedes that olive oil is pricey, but says people have started to appreciate its nutritional value.
“The good thing to come out of the outbreak of COVID-19 is that people have started to take care of their health and cut down on bad oil. They know that you can apply this oil on a baby who has eczema and that you can use it on your hair. The key is education. If you notice, wherever you go, people are exercising, others are jogging but all of this needs to be complemented by a good diet,” he said.
Although he said some good had come out of COVID-19, but he acknowledged that, like many people, he was affected adversely; its impact disrupted his plans to buy the farm from which he sources the olives. Negotiations were at an advanced stage so much so that even the Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, had been on the property, until COVID-19 hit. Also, selling the olive oil stopped for a while where the Western Cape experienced a rise in infections. He survived, thanks to his job at a call centre.
On the challenges he has experienced, he said: “The Western is like another country. People don’t bothering answering your calls. Racism is still rife; worse if you’re a small business, people don’t trust you.
“In the Eastern Cape, farmers are given to old people, who have lost the enthusiasm and don’t know how to run farms like a business. Sometimes farms end up unproductive. It’s still difficult in this industry if you are black and young, because it’s full of white old men; it’s difficult to get funding,” said Manga.
The seed of his passion for agriculture was planted when he was still growing up in the Eastern Cape. He was born in Uitenhage and would visit his businessman and farmer grandfather in Grahamstown.
“I was fascinated by everything about agriculture from childhood. From ploughing to slaughtering a sheep or goat, I have never seen it as labour or complicated. Even seeing a fruit from being planted, being tended to until it bore fruit taught him patience. Leaving my job as a financial advisor to concentrate on farming was easy, because it’s what I’m passionate about.”
Manga holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Honours degree. This article was first published in www.umbele.likhanyiletm.co.za