Sizwe PhungwayoBy Sizwe Phungwayo|May 30, 2022|7 Minutes|In Risk & Glory League

Risk and Glory

Patience Perseverance and Pain.

Patience, perseverance and growing pains. When I initially started my entrepreneurship journey two years ago, by opening up a farm, I didnt anticipate it would be easy; however, the challenges have been tricky and have shown me how resourceful and resilient one must be in order to succeed.

A lot has changed over the past year; besides trying to get things up and running again on the farm, I’ve experienced many regulatory and compliance challenges. I didn’t expect the compliance aspect of the business to be complicated. However, with COVID and everything happening worldwide over the past two years, I’m not surprised about the stringent requirements of food production, Agri processing and agriculture.

I am working with the local municipality and town planning to get a viable agricultural project going. No one ever tells you about the legal and compliance barrier to entry into agriculture. When reading magazines, and newspapers, the most common topics covered in the press are the commercial issues regarding farming, access to markets, cash flow, and the budgeting challenges of operating a farm. Insights concerning legal and compliance challenges experienced before working and managing a farm are not shared, especially insights on running and professionally managing a  commercial farming operation. I eventually came across the compliance challenges in the real world without any prior knowledge and experience and, ‘Boy, has it been a surprise!’ I’ve had to reach out to experts for some assistance in dealing with those challenges.

So far, I’ve taken advice from a land surveyor, a lawyer, an architect, and a consulting town planner, to make sure I meet expectations and deal with the challenges ahead. Those challenges range from property ownership, zoning certificates, building lines, cadastral information, and budgetary constraints, which all need to be adequately inspected and enquired about by the local municipality. As frustrating as this process can be, I want to do things correctly and properly the first time around. The Nigel Municipality, near Johannesburg,  is known for fining its residents, where town planning non-compliance is concerned, so I’m trying to avoid unnecessary trouble and headaches later on.

The first stage of the agricultural project will need some other experts too. Firstly, a geotechnical engineer will assess soil and rock mechanics to address engineering problems and determine the soil conditions for a civil and structural engineer’s bulk services and foundation. The recent flooding in KZN and the massive sinkholes that appeared after that are a potent reminder of what could happen with any infrastructure if a geotechnical expert isn’t consulted adequately.


Secondly, a structural engineer will assess the work done and sign on, sign off on the council submission drawings general of the construction elements of the project. Thirdly, a civil engineer will be required to create and draw a stormwater drainage system design for compliance with the council.


Last but not least, an environmental assessment practitioner will be needed to perform an Environmental Impact Assessment or an independent impact assessment, depending on the situation. This assessment is a tool to aid environmental decision-making. It is a process that allows for public involvement when positive and negative impacts (opportunities and constraints) that are associated with a proposed course of action are assessed. A Heritage impact assessment may be required to provide insight into the impact of the proposed development on heritage resources (buildings or sites) around the area of the project and provide mitigation measures to limit the effect of that impact. The environmental assessment practitioner ensures the project is in line with specific policy guidelines and the following legislation; National Environmental Management Act 1998, National Water Act 1998, National Heritage Resources Act 1999, National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 2004, National Environmental Management Waste Act 2009, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2014 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2014.

The final stage of the project is to have a Site Development Plan in place in order to know where specific infrastructure, buildings, and structures will be set up before leveling the land, breaking ground, and building.

As much as I am building a client book and have a growing customer base, it has mainly focused on the informal market of door-to-door sales, taxi ranks, roadside selling, and customer referrals. Sales are helping me grow the business, which will help me in the long run. There is now evidence of the income and expenditure, and a balance sheet is beginning to form. I’m building capacity and trying to grow sales numbers. To do that sooner or later, I’ll need to approach and get clients and more customers in the formal marketplace, which are retailers and the like.

Realizing the dream and vision of building a poultry farm has been eye-opening and exciting. I’ve had to go through many hurdles, I’ve had to fight to push ahead through everything, and honestly, there have been legitimate reasons and points in time where I’ve wanted to give up. However, I’ve reached a place where I fully understand what this opportunity means, its possibility, and the responsibility I have to see it through. It’s heart-warming, scary, and surreal, but more importantly, it’s provoking…of patience, perseverance, and growing pains.

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