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Eric Ntlaba

Eric Ntlaba Agricultural Writers SA Central Region New Entrant to Commercial Agriculture 2016.

Perseverance, determination and hard work are three concepts Eric Ntlaba from the eastern Free State knows very well. Farming has always been part of the 34 year old farmer's life as he grew up on a 160 ha farm his father, Chris Ntlaba, bought at Petrus Steyn in 1995.

After completing his Diploma in General management and degree in business administration, he worked at various hotel groups in Bloemfontein and Gauteng. It was while he was manager at a hotel in Polokwane that he realised he wanted to fulfil his dream of being a farmer. He bought a 15 ha small holding in the area, and started farming with pigs in 2008.

He struggled with the grading of his pigs, and approached large pork producers in the Magaliesburg area to learn more from them. For three years he worked at the hotel during the week, while he farmed and worked with the farmers over weekends. To be able to farm, he saved for a deposit, cashed in his pension and applied for bank loans.

In 2012 Eric moved to his current farm, Tygerkloof, in the Lindley area. He leased the 251 ha farm for two years while applying for loans to be able to buy it. In the end he put up his mother's house for security and received a loan from the Land Bank. Eric also bought animals with good genetics from a well-known pig producer in Cullinan, Pretoria.

Since then he's build his farming operation into a thriving business of 2300 pigs. He employs three workers full time and markets 150 pigs per week, selling up to 600 per month. He currently delivers to Dreamland Piggery that provides, inter alia, Pick 'n Pay. He also farms with up to 1 000 chickens that he sells to the local informal market, while he produces maize on 120 ha and erected a mill on the farm to be able to produce his own feed. "The main goal of the mill was to curb input costs, and it paid itself within a year. Without it, we would not have been able to survive during the drought."

Eric believes that one must be passionate about what you want to accomplish. "If you know your worth, you will put everything in to make your dream work. I've also learned that you should stick with one thing until you do it well, and then you can grow your business further."


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