Can going nuts save our economy?
Busi Molefe is growing South Africa’s economy. Nut by nut. What started as an initiative to give her community easier access to vegetables is now a flourishing macadamia farm, nurtured by KwaZulu Natal’s tropical climate and Molefe’s dedication. The farm contributes to our country’s total macadamia production – one part of a greater collective that makes South Africa the largest producer in the world.
After matriculating, Molefe volunteered for the Community Advancement Development Corporation. She attended an exchange programme in Sweden, where she met a family who offered to pay for her studies. Upon her return to South Africa, Molefe had the opportunity to pursue anything she wanted. Farming is a male-dominated industry, but she followed her interests to study agriculture at the University of KwaZulu Natal. After getting her degree, it took Molefe six years to meet the requirements for export, after which she shifted from a subsistence producer to a qualified export farmer. Together with two other women, Molefe leased land to farm on until they could make enough to start their own business. Today, she co-owns the 17-hectare BBS Farm in Port Shepstone, distributing macadamias to national food stores as well as to three other continents.
Molefe is one of the first black farmers in the province to export macadamias. Her decision to work with an unusual product has paid off – the nuts are now one of South Africa’s most profitable crops, bringing in more than R3 billion to our economy in 2017. Together with her partners, Molefe also produces tomatoes and vegetable seedlings, and plans to add fish farming to their list of successes. In 2017, Molefe was recognised by Ithala’s Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business Awards for her agricultural efforts. Throughout her journey to empowering herself, Molefe has also committed to supporting those around her by employing local women and youth. In this time, she has worked exceptionally hard to prove not just her capability as a woman, but her strength as one of South Africa’s finest farmers.