MANY could learn from the inspiring story of Amos Mathebula from Morgenzon, Mpumalanga.

He had moved to the city of gold, looking for showbiz opportunities.

But when things didn’t go well, he packed his bags and moved back home to the rural areas to work his family land into a food garden and business.

He started a fresh produce co-operative.

The Shoprite Group, which supports over 136 community food gardens and 1 114 home-based gardens around Mzansi, fostering long-term food security and creating livelihood opportunities, soon noticed him and his co-operative in 2019.

Said Amos: “We’ve received so much support from Shoprite so far, from tools, to seedlings, trees, fertiliser and netting to protect crops.”

He said the retail group helped him with permaculture training workshops, which helped him and his team become entrepreneurs, instead of subsistence farmers.

“What I enjoy the most about organic farming is it is affordable, and you have the same results, if not better, than with chemicals. There are only a few places in town nearby that supply vegetables. In March, we supplied one of the local shops with green peppers and jalapenos and we’ve now come to an agreement that we’ll sell spinach to them in September.”

Mathebula already has plans to expand his agricultural business. “I’d like to triple production, so I am busy redesigning the food garden. The more crops we can yield, the more profits we can make. If you want to start something, you just have to start. You can read all the books you want, but if you haven’t taken the steps, you haven’t done anything. The best thing is to take a step towards what you want. The knowledge and confidence will come.”

“I got this land from my late madala who used to farm maize, and he is actually smiling wherever he is. Two weeks ago, we received a signage board from Shoprite and that’s inspirational. I like to think I am bringing change and motivation to those who haven’t considered agriculture. I hope there are more young people who will follow in my footsteps,” he said.