Poultry studies ensures NWU alumnus has something to crow about

Issued by North West University
North-West, Feb 19, 2019

Siyabonga Mhlabane has gone from student to employer and food producer, thanks to hard work and the motivation gained from a module in poultry science.

Now 26 and with a diploma in animal science from the North-West University (NWU) to his name, Mhlabane has starting a poultry company and has great plans for the future.

The former NWU Student Representative Council member's poultry farm is located on the outskirts of Mbombela, in Mpumalanga.

Alfred Daisy Poultry produces, processes, packages and distributes poultry products to a variety of customers and outlets.

"I studied a diploma in animal science and Dr Connie Lebopa taught a module called poultry science," says Mhlabane. "While doing the course, the deficit in chicken meat production in South Africa was outlined, and equally so the poultry industry being one of the highest employers, with its value chain in the agricultural sector. This gave me the vision to own a company with operations in the poultry value chain," he explains.

Mhlabane graduated in 2014 and then enrolled for a BSc in agricultural economics. He says his studies towards a BSc gave him a deeper understanding of the business side of agriculture through modules like agri-business and agricultural marketing.

"During my final year in 2017, I dropped my studies to start my own poultry company with all the knowledge I had amassed over the years," says Mhlabane. "Finally, in April 2018, I landed myself a farm lease agreement from a farmer who was no longer capable of producing and his farm was left fallow. With a R7 000 start-up loan from my mother, I managed to refurbish the farm and buy the material needed for production, and a starting stock of 100 day-old chicks," he adds.

Mhlabane's love for poultry was inspired by his mother, who had been a broiler farmer. His interest in agricultural science was further stimulated by two of his school teachers, Ms Mbazima and Ms Sebitane, who encouraged him to enrol at the NWU.

His National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) application was granted and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) approved his application on branding and marketing in November 2018.

"These funds helped me to get the company where it is today, employing three young people with a maximum production of 3 000 birds per production cycle," says Mhlabane.

He says the company is open for investment from private or government sectors, since part of the company's vision is to alleviate youth unemployment, inequalities and poverty in communities.

"My wish is to build a national brand that will be at the centre of our customers' daily meals," concludes Mhlabane.