Growing Success For A Small-Scale Wattle Farmer
Farmer's Weekly|November 13, 2020
Mthandeni Ntanzi has combined ingenuity, expert advice and sheer hard work to improve production on his small black wattle plantation, becoming an award-winning farmer in the process. Lloyd Phillips visited him at his operation in KwaZulu-Natal.
Lloyd Phillips

4: From left: Eza Mapipa (forestry development officer of NTE Company), Mthandeni Ntanzi (black wattle farmer) and Cliff Walton (NCT’s district manager for member services in the Greytown area). Mapipa and Walton are helping Ntanzi become an increasingly productive, sustainable and profitable producer.

It’s not easy to pin down Mthandeni Ntanzi for an interview. That he is clearly a busy, hands-on farmer with little free time is evinced by his neat and well-tended homestead surrounded by 4,5ha of well-managed black wattle (Acacia mearnsii). And it is precisely for his strong work ethic and resourcefulness that Ntanzi was named NCT Forestry Co-operative’s 2019 Tree Farmer of the Year in the small-scale grower category.

1: Many smaller-scale black wattle producers like Mthandeni Ntanzi prefer to grow denser black wattle populations than industry norms as a precaution should any trees be damaged.

Ntanzi is a fourth-generation resident of his family’s 5ha smallholding on KwaCele Traditional Authority land in KwaZulu-Natal’s eMatimatolo area. Like his great-grandfather, grandfather and father before him, Ntanzi grows black wattle for commercial purposes. However, unlike his forebears, he has made the trees his primary income source and so dedicates almost all of his time, efforts and resources into producing the best-quality black wattle bark and timber he can.

2: The two most economically important uses of black wattle trees are pulpwood, used to make paper products, and tannin, which is extracted from the bark and used for tanning leather.

A VALUABLE RESOURCE

Commercial black wattle production has long had great economic value in South Africa. According to the Agricultural Research Council, the two main uses for the tree are the extraction of tannin from its bark (for the tanning of leather) and the production of pulpwood chips, which are exported for further processing.

3: Double leaders from black wattle trees are removed so that they do not draw any water or nutrients from the commercially important primary stem.

Ntanzi sells the mature bark of his trees to NTE Company and the pulpwood to NCT. Using his own Mercedes-Benz flatbed truck, which can carry a 7t load, Ntanzi delivers the bark to NTE’s processing plant at Hermannsburg, about 21km away, and the timber to an NCT satellite depot near Greytown 14km away. “My late father, Give, didn’t receive any training in how to grow black wattle commercially. He learnt things by talking to other farmers,” says Ntanzi.

“He also learnt from his mistakes. He taught me much of what I needed to know about growing black wattle commercially. When he became very ill in 2003, and eventually passed away, I took over the full management of our business.”

Guiding Ntanzi for a number of years have been Cliff Walton, NCT’s district manager for member services in the Greytown area, and Eza Mapipa, NTE’s forestry development officer. They are Ntanzi’s sounding board, and also share any production guidelines and relevant new research that can help Ntanzi grow and harvest his trees more cost-effectively.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

SUMMERTIME SALADS

These salads are a celebration of summer, and are perfect to have on their own or as a side. They are also easy to make and super affordable. Bon appétit!

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

North West farmers extend helping hand to hungry communities

Prompted by their own hardship during a decade of drought, farmers in the Schweizer-Reneke area have recognised the urgent need to help unemployed and hungry families in the local communities. Lindi Botha spoke to Jozeph du Plessis about the farmers’ project to distribute maize meal to the needy.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Backgrounding Beef Animals For Higher Profit

Most South African beef producers sell their weaners straight to feedlots for finishing. Chéri-Lynn Steyn, a master’s student in agricultural economics, explains how backgrounding these animals can increase the income of commercial beef farms and even of the feedlots themselves.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Economic Outlook 2021: Now Is The Time To Build Reserves

After a particularly tough year for its economy, South Africa faces many challenges in 2021. Reduced spending power, credit downgrades, and a second wave of COVID-19 could put a damper on agricultural profits this year, and farmers will need to consider their marketing plans carefully. Lindi Botha shares advice from two of the country’s leading economists.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Good Summer Rain Forecast For SA

Weather experts have predicted above-average precipitation for South Africa’s summer rainfall areas in 2020/2021. Meteorologist Johan van den Berg explained the weather cycles and La Niña/El Niño phenomena behind the forecast to Jeandré van der Walt.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Land Reform 2021: Beware Of Fake News

Land reform in South Africa is mired in policy uncertainty and government neglect. At the same time, it is a political football, kicked around shamelessly by some leaders to serve short-term political goals. Glenneis Kriel spoke to three experts in the field to obtain clarity on this crucially important topic.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 1-8, 2021

Managing calf health for maximum long-term productivity

Prevention is better than cure, and this mindset is especially applicable when it comes to preparing calves for their productive adult lives. Dr Schabort Froneman, technical manager for ruminants at Zoetis, provides some pointers on how to raise healthy calves that can become healthy adult animals.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

The stories that got us through a tough year

Farmer’s Weekly editor, Denene Erasmus, looks back at some of the top stories of 2020 that not only inspired her, but also served as an example to all South Africans of the remarkable resilience and determination shown by the farming sector during this most unusual year.

9 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

SA Harvest: fighting hunger and food waste one meal at a time

Small beginnings can lay the foundation of great success. This holds true for SA Harvest, a food rescue and distribution organisation. Ali Conn, regional manager at SA Harvest, spoke to Jeandré van der Walt about the organisation’s journey over the past year and its future plans.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020

Diversifying with a new variety pays off for pumpkin producer

The demand for convenient meals and easy-to-prepare vegetables is opening up marketing opportunities for the Hokkaido pumpkin, a newcomer to South Africa. Small, and with an edible peel, the variety holds much promise for expanding cucurbit cultivation. Lindi Botha spoke to Francois Steyn about farming the Hokkaido.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 18, 2020