Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
BEITBRIDGE youthful agronomist, Mr Ntandoyenkosi Ndlovu (34) has risen from a mere livestock fanatic to a renowned goat breeder.
In fact, Mr Ndlovu says he has always had a passion for farming since a tender age and that before getting into full-scale goat breeding, he would teach communal farmers in Beitbridge the best livestock production skills online.
He now runs Gatsheni Breeding Company that specialises in breeding Boer goats in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The Boer goat is a breed of goat that was developed in South Africa in the early 1900s and the name is derived from the Afrikaans word Boer, meaning farmer.
“It started as a dream/vision, which is to industrialise the agricultural sector especially the livestock sector. My dream is to run a multinational agricultural project in Africa,” said Mr Ndlovu.
“In 2016, after graduating from MSU as an agricultural economist I was so zealous to put my dream into practice. I then joined the Municipality of Beitbridge as an assistant farm manager, while at the same time running my personal projects aside. So, I started educating farmers on WhatsApp on fodder production specifically Bana grass which I introduced to deal with annual droughts that saw the local communal farmers losing thousands of livestock every year.”
He said he was linked to goat breeders by one farmer while giving an online lecture to communal farmers on marketing.
Mr Ndlovu said the man sent him to buy a single buck which he honestly delivered as requested.
From there, he started visiting local goat farmers to learn about goats breeding.
“I even went as far as South African to learn more about goat breeding and due to lack of capital my desire remained only on paper,” he said.
He connected with one, Mr Noise Ncube, a church mate, who offered to assist him by supplying customers his goats.
Mr Ndlovu said he upped his marketing skills and got many clients and was being paid on commission.
After a few months, the two men started supporting each other where necessary and currently the agronomist delivers between 40 and 60 goats at 2-3 months intervals to his clients.
“A lot of Boer goat farmers in Beitbridge assisted me to rise to this stage. Officially, I started with five ewes and one buck for breeding in 2018, and in 2020 after leaving my job at the municipality, I sold 25 for my breeding stock to restart in Vanderbijlpark-Johannesburg in South Africa.
“Now I have 30 breeding ewes. While I sell to clients to keep the business flowing, currently, I make R5 000 per month after deducting monthly expenses, this is enough to keep the business flowing,” added Mr Ndlovu.
He started off renting a homestead in Malala in Beitbridge, Ward 6, and hired someone to take care of the stock, while he shuttled between his council and private jobs.
Mr Ndlovu said although he was confronted with many operational challenges, he remains focused and determined to achieve his set goals.
He then relocated to South Africa in December 2020, where marketing is easier since the Boer goats are originally from the neighbouring country.
“Resources are affordable there if we compare to Zimbabwe currently, and the market is wide because you can supply other neighbouring countries without any issues.
“At Gatsheni Boer goats, we always strive to build confidence and trust with our clients. The industry is infested with a lot of scammers,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said on average a (ewe) female goat which is 10 months old is sold for an average of R4 500, while a buck of the same age is sold for at least R6 000.
Mr Ndlovu said he always supplies good genetics to avoid turning Zimbabwe into a dumping zone of poor-quality genetics.
The ever-growing clientele base, he said, has been the backbone to running a successful business.
“When we lose one client, we have lost 10, while we win a client, we have won 20 of them so we strive to keep our clients satisfied. I am grateful for the support from my family, friends, and the entire Beitbridge community including the farmers who keep encouraging me to do more,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said he was working on growing his stock to a stage where he can supply the market with 100 breeding ewes every two months in the next coming five years.
Some of the lessons include relying on one’s skills to break barriers to your dreams, entrepreneurship which is the key to youth empowerment.
“Trust and network is needed in an environment full of scammers and robbers and one must learn to cultivate their passion for a peaceful and successful life,” said Mr Ndlovu. –@tupeyo