From herdsman to award-winning producer

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

  • As a young boy, Rudzani Sadiki tended to his family’s cattle in the village’s communal pastures in Venda, Limpopo. Today he is a commercial producer who cultivates almost 1 000ha of sunflower and runs cattle, sheep and chicken branches.
  • Rudzani won the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) National Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) of the Year award in 2023 – the category is part of the ARC’s National Beef Performance Awards.
  • Rudzani currently farms on 1 285ha on Welgewaagd in the vicinity of Dwaalboom in Limpopo. Tending to the cattle of his grandmother and parents in the village of Matsa in Venda, he never even dreamed of becoming a farmer himself, he says.
  • Rudzani’s knowledge of sunflower cultivation was limited, but his neighbours, Pieter Pienaar and Kurt Borowski, advised him on how to set up and calibrate the equipment. Today he owns several tractors and a big red harvester.

As a young boy, Rudzani Sadiki tended to his family’s cattle in the village’s communal pastures in Venda, Limpopo. Today he is a commercial producer who cultivates almost 1 000ha of sunflower and runs cattle, sheep and chicken branches. To mark a milestone in his journey, he recently received a prestigious award.

From humble beginnings, Rudzani progressed to become a commercial producer at the age of 40. He has a scientific approach to farming, employing accurate and meticulous record-keeping to measure progress in his Bonsmara herd. This approach saw him winning the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) National Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) of the Year award in 2023 – the category is part of the ARC’s National Beef Performance Awards. He said his wife, Mukondeleli, played a pivotal role in his success.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALLRD) has been an ongoing key stakeholder in the ARC awards since its inception. As of 2022, Plaas Media is the main sponsor of the awards.

The ARC National KyD of the Year award category commemorates its 22nd anniversary this year and the category is sponsored by Stockfarm. Finalists are identified from among producers who participate in the KyD scheme and aim to become fully-fledged commercial producers. They ultimately contend for the title of national winner.

Read more about the ARC National Beef Performance Awards here.

The KyD training scheme

Beef cattle producers are assisted by the KyD scheme to apply beef recording and improvement technologies. This facilitates accurate selection for economically relevant traits and assists producers in making their herds more productive and profitable.

Emerging farmers developed through the KyD scheme are also registered on the INTERGIS national database – currently more than 8 000 emerging farmers are members of the scheme.

The purpose of the award is firstly to acknowledge members of the KyD scheme who perform well in terms of specific criteria related to the recording, management and performance of their herds. It also encourages emerging cattle farmers to improve their standard of living through higher returns from animal production and job creation. Most of all, this award is aimed at demonstrating the benefit of performance testing by identifying outstanding herds and promoting sound breeding and management principles in the beef industry.

The other 2023 finalists were Lubabalo Ngcwembe of Ikwezi Lokusa in the Eastern Cape, Puseletso Tsoeu of Uitvlugt in the Free State, Bumbi Mahlangu of Mkhalangani Farming in Gauteng, James Luvuno of Driekwart in KwaZulu-Natal, Phakade Khanyile of Kleinfontein in Mpumalanga, Maria Kantwan of Rust en Vrede in the Northern Cape, and Waetsho Makgale of Sekobye Makgale and Sons in North West.

A rocky start 

Rudzani currently farms on 1 285ha on Welgewaagd in the vicinity of Dwaalboom in Limpopo. Tending to the cattle of his grandmother and parents in the village of Matsa in Venda, he never even dreamed of becoming a farmer himself, he says.

On his tenth birthday, his family gifted him five calves as motivation. But he soon faced the challenges of farming as livestock theft was a significant problem, pasture management was impossible on the communal land, and he could not purchase his own bull to successfully improve his herd.

Rudzani later completed a degree in agricultural management at the University of South Africa. During his studies, he attended farmers’ and information days and rubbed shoulders with producers and other role-players in agriculture. This made him realise that he could in fact one day be a commercial producer.

He returned home in 2006 and started farming Boer goats and broilers. With the help of the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (Nerpo), he acquired 72 Boer goat ewes and two rams, but along with the positive there was the drawback of having to deal with communal farming issues. Some of his goats were even caught in traps set for game.

Read more about creep feed for your beef calves here.

On the way to success

Rudzani eventually sold the goats and acquired 7 000 broilers which he reared near the village. It went well, and then an opportunity to move to Mokopane presented itself. There he obtained a contract to deliver 40 000 broilers per week to the abattoir of a well-known broiler company.

When the contract came to an end in 2016, he acquired Welgewaagd on a 30-year leasehold with the option to buy the farm. He arrived there with nothing. “I didn’t even have a bakkie!”

The farm consisted of 974ha of arable land and the fences were in poor condition. He went back to what he knew best and started rearing broilers. Four chicken houses were erected, each able to accommodate 2 000 broilers at a time. I sold the broilers to the local community. This is a thriving market because people living in rural areas often don’t have refrigerators to store their food in, which makes a live broiler a desirable meat source for a family,” says Rudzani.

This gave him the kickstart he needed, and he hired equipment to cultivate sunflower. His plans and management practices needed some adjusting at times for when equipment became available. In 2019, the DALRRD approved his financial support application, which gave him the funds needed to purchase his own equipment and a bakkie. The biggest advantage was that he was able to erect a decent fence around the sunflower fields to keep the kudus from damaging the crops.

Neighbourly assistance

Rudzani’s knowledge of sunflower cultivation was limited, but his neighbours, Pieter Pienaar and Kurt Borowski, advised him on how to set up and calibrate the equipment. Today he owns several tractors and a big red harvester.

The sunflowers proved successful, and this led him to the following step – acquiring 30 Nguni heifers and a bull. He chose this breed as they are very well adapted, hardy and low maintenance, which allowed him to focus on the sunflower production branch. He also acquired a flock of Dorper sheep.

Bonsmara stud in the making

“Over time, however, I realised that despite the good qualities of the Nguni cattle, they did not fit in with my beef production plans, so I sold the animals and bought 36 commercial Bonsmara cows from several leading breeders.” In 2020 he bought a registered stud bull from Gavin Bristow, a well-known Bonsmara breeder in Limpopo. The aim is to eventually register the animals and start a stud. The Bonsmara herd currently consists of around 86 animals. Bull calves are sold at local auctions or to a feedlot.

Hendrik Kgasoane, a technician at the local state veterinarian, is always ready to assist. Then there is Rudzani’s right-hand man on the farm, Tshilidzi Mudau, who assists him with weighing and marking the calves and cattle, and recording important measurements.

The award Rudzani received means a lot to him and serves as encouragement for improving his farming practices. His success proves that black producers can indeed succeed. “Farming isn’t child’s play. It requires dedication and a love of the land, animals and the environment. And if you stick to it, you can make a success.” – Andries Gouws, Stockfarm

For enquiries, contact Rudzani Sadiki on 072 415 0667 or send an email sadikirp@gmail.com.

Must read

Dairy industry benefits from research at Outeniqua Research Farm

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes Western Cape minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, recently visited the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Outeniqua Research Farm, outside of George. The research farm is known for its...

Katoen-verwysingsprys: Week van 8 April tot 12 April 2024

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Katoenprodusente-organisasie (SAKPO), met die ondersteuning van Katoen SA, het ’n platform geskep om elke week ’n gemiddelde verwysingsprys vir katoenvesel deur te gee. Hierdie is slegs ’n afgeleide prys wat bereken word op...
So ’n span gesonde kalwers op goeie groenweiding bied die beste potensiaal vir sukses.

Strategieë vir die voerkraalvoorbereiding van kalwers

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes Voerkraalvoorbereiding, beter bekend as backgrounding, verwys na ’n fase in die beesvleisproduksieproses waar jong beeste, tipies pas-gespeende kalwers, in ’n voerprogram geplaas word wat daarop gemik is om hulle...

Ekonomiese oorsig vir Maart: Landboumarkte wissel

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes Die rand het ‘n goeie maand ervaar tydens Maart en het deurlopend teenoor die dollar versterk en ‘n redelike stabiele maand teenoor die euro ervaar. Die rand het die...
grootveeproduksiestelsels

Veediefstal: Omgewingskriminologie en misdaadanalise

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes Veediefstal is ‘n misdaad wat ouer as die berge is. Boba omskryf misdaadontleding as “die sistematiese studie van misdaad- en wanordeprobleme, asook ander polisieverwante kwessies – insluitend sosiodemografiese, ruimtelike...