By Raine St.Claire
Meet Dr Ethel Zulu—an extraordinary female farmer on the rise
Ethel, 48, holds a doctorate in nutrition and she is amazing at what she does!
From a young age, Ethel has nurtured a deep-rooted passion for this field, firmly convinced that her true vocation lies within it.
And today, as the proud owner of a 23-hectare farm in Cullinan just outside Pretoria, her remarkable skills and expertise in her field is evident. Her profound knowledge of nutrition and experience, enables her to cultivate organic chickens and vegetables, with the objective of empowering women in the realm of commercial farming.
In a display of remarkable courage, Ethel took a bold step by leaving her position at the Northwest Department of Agriculture to establish her own training agency, Hope Nutrition Business Consultants. Through her training agency, Ethel shares her expertise across six provinces, providing support to women and young individuals as they embark on their farming ventures. However, releasing in 2017 that her knowledge and training would only yield meaningful results through practical implementation, she acquired a farm and began applying her wealth of knowledge.
Presently, Ethel stands as a successful commercial poultry farmer, raising an impressive number of over 7 500 broilers. Interestingly, her initial focus was solely on organic vegetables, but the need for chickens arose due to their beneficial manure. This inspired her to venture into broiler production and in just two years, has triumphantly produced 5 000 broilers, establishing a supply chain to local supermarkets.
One remarkable aspect of Ethel’s approach is her commitment to raising free-range chickens without the use of hormones. Their manure serves as compost for cultivating a diverse range of vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and peppers. Notably, Ethel’s produce benefits not only supermarkets but also caters to hawkers. The growth of her enterprise has resulted in the permanent employment of twelve women.
Ethel recognizes the critical role that poultry plays within the country, given that chicken consumption surpasses that of any other meat among families. She believes the government system needs to encourage more Black farmers to go into agro-processing than just selling livestock. She aspires to train over 1,000 women in farming annually across South Africa. Becoming a trusted producer of free-range chickens and organic vegetables stands as an additional goal she has set for herself.
Her Agri-training agency, Hope Nutrition Business Consultants, has been accredited with AgriSETA and currently has twenty Tshwane University of Technology students doing their practical training at the academy.
Her advice to aspiring female farmers emphasises starting small rather than waiting for government support. Ethel places significant importance on actively seeking partnerships with local supermarkets to gain insight into their quality requirements. She encourages collaboration within food brands to meet the demands for both quality and quantity.
Ethel passionately believes in the ability of agriculture to economically empower women and create numerous job opportunities. By empowering women, she is confident that the entire nation will benefit. She urges women not to confine themselves solely to primary agriculture and encourages them to expand their horizons by exploring additional facets of the industry such as agro-processing, packaging, and reselling.
In Ethel’s perspective, financial independence serves as a vital means of combating gender-based violence. Farming, among other avenues, possesses the potential to help achieve this goal.
Ethel is a true inspiration, making a substantial impact through her unwavering passion.
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