North West farmer’s thriving tomato business

Gilbert Nesane’s passion for farming is unshakably written on his forehead.

He converted a Potchefstroom Municipal Youth Center backyard into a hub of farming activity.

“I just saw an opportunity to utilize unused land and plant tomatoes,” he laughingly admits.

The youth center is situated just 100 meters away from the city. Right outside the center, Nesane erected a semi-market wHere all tomatoes and other vegetables from the backyard garden are sold to commuters at an affordable price.

“Tomatoes are only planted in Limpopo and by the time they reach Gauteng and other parts of the country they are heavily priced. I just wanted to demonstrate how doable it was for something considered undoable,” he said.

Tomato by nature was warm-season crop thriving in temperatures between 10ºC – 38 ºC with the optimum temperature between 21-24 ºC.

“People thought I was crazy when I planted on this piecemeal land until I bought an 8ha farm and planted more tomatoes. Today, I have a clientele from Gauteng to North West. Tomatoes is one commodity that is guaranteed to sell,” said Nesane.

Combined, Nesane generates close to and above R200 000 for tomatoes just only on a 1.2 ha of land.

“My father taught us a valuable lesson about land. If you have land, plant and you will prosper and never go hungry. Out of this, I took all my pension money and bought this farm.”

For those with an agricultural sense of history, Gilbert’s father is the famous tomatoes farmer, Dr Ntuseni Jameson Nesane. In 2012, his father received an honorary doctorate from the University of Venda for his contribution to economic development of the country.

Gilbert himself is a Master of Agriculture student having completed his post graduate degree at the University of Free State.

“It is important for the now generation farmer to arm himself or herself with the basics of agricultural knowledge. I had prior knowledge on my farming since childhood but I decided to learn further to better myself,” states Nesane.

B Agric Admin (LU), Honours (UP) & Masters (UFS) – Gilbert Nesane

Besides farming, Nesane is an accredited supplier and distributor of production inputs like fertilizers, seeds and chemicals. Under Vhasane Group, he has over 7 trucks that supplies government and private companies with production inputs. He cuts on the top list of black suppliers of production inputs in the country.

Nesane has 10 permanent employees with seasonal workers growing to 30. He is supported by his wife Sannah Nesane who handles all Vhasane Group operations.

“I am continuing with the generational farming business. My brothers are still farming on the 100 ha my father left us.”For future expectations, Gilbert plans to farm tomatoes on a 1000ha and expand his enterprise deeper into the hinterlands of North West.

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North West farmer’s thriving tomato business
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