Meet Gene Likhanya, a visionary leader in macadamia farming. From UN peacekeeper to the mastermind behind Madimbo Agri Group, his story is one of wise investment, and patient cultivation. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Fifteen years ago, Gene Likhanya kicked off with a dream and 2.5 hectares. Today, his thriving farm stands as a testament to his unwavering spirit. The humble beginnings have given way to a diversified agricultural landscape, where macadamia trees reach for the sun alongside avocado groves and banana stands

In a new Farmer Mentor podcast on Farmer’s Inside Track, Gene Likhanya, the farm director of Madimbo Macadamia, shares his journey into macadamia farming despite having doubts. His inspiring success story is a testament to the power of smart moves and diversification in agriculture.

About 15 years ago, Gene Likhanya started farming with Macadamia trees on a modest 2.5 hectares in Limpopo. Today, his farming enterprise extends across an impressive 100 hectares, boasting a diversified business portfolio that includes plant-hire machinery and equipment, a macadamia nursery, and the cultivation of avocados and bananas.

More than 20 years ago, Likhanya was inspired by his uncle who left the private sector to venture into farming. At the time, macadamia farming was foreign to villagers in their region.

“The villagers thought he was crazy and that he had lost his marbles,” he explains.

A smart farmer

Like his uncle, Likhanya is not afraid of the unknown, so he too decided to give macadamia farming a go with money he had saved as a UN peacekeeper.

However, Likhanya was smart. While waiting for his macadamia orchard to blossom and make money, he generated cash with bananas and butternuts.

“Over time, our business has grown and diversified. Initially focused on macadamia production, we expanded into plant hire machinery and equipment, facilitating quality land preparations. Additionally, we entered consulting, offering mentorship, business planning, and irrigation design for a fee,” Likhanya shares.

Madimbo Macadamia also has a nursery for plant and seedling production, and they also grow avocados and bananas.

Getting here has been no joy ride. Likhanya has paid his dues. He often reflects on his early days and remembers how he did not know how to work the land, being clueless about budgeting for debushing and soil balancing.  

“Acquiring land may seem straightforward, but the reality hits when you’re faced with the challenge of accessing water and obtaining the necessary permits for irrigation systems. I didn’t know how to do these things back then, but I know better these days.”

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