The man behind the largest amaranth farm in KZN

Seniren Naidoo holding freshly harvested red herbs. Photo: Supplied

Seniren Naidoo holding freshly harvested red herbs. Photo: Supplied

Published Jun 25, 2024


Farming may not come easily to many people, but with a history of farming in the family, a person can grasp the techniques and knowledge early in life.

This was the case with Seniren Naidoo, 31, from oThongathi who has followed in his grandfather's footsteps to venture into farming, and has a passion for growing amaranth.

The family farm, on a hilltop between oThongathi and Ballito on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, grows a variety of leafy vegetables.

But Naidoo is more than just a successful farmer, he is also a sales and services manager for a private banking firm. It was after he completed his degree that he started his farming journey in 2013.

“My family has been farming since 1910 and I was helping on the farm from the age of 12. I got all my practical experience from those young teachings.”

Naidoo who has been working on growing his farm, said:“I have been very involved in the farm for around 13 years with the aim to start farming in niche markets such as pigeon pea, amaranthus and other exotic vegetables.

“However, my main crop is amaranthus which is planted in rows and beddings. It is challenging given that it's done manually. Also there is not much crop guidance online or around in SA on this line of vegetables,” he said.

Naidoo is the largest amaranth producer in the province. His farm produces between 5 000 and 15 000 bunches of amaranth varieties every week, and supplies private stores in oThongathi, Verulam, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg.

“Most of the customers are privately owned stores. However, many people come straight to the farm to buy the herbs because not a lot of people sell amaranth.”

Naidoo has many workers on the farm helping him rotate the soil and replant after the herbs are harvested. He said the hilltop was best for planting as it was exposed to the full sun which helps it grow evenly and well.

Although he has made a success of amaranth farming, Naidoo said, the early stages were difficult: “The first time I did it, I got it very wrong. The second and third time, I started doing it properly. At the time my dad and I were the only people who could plant the seeds properly. After that we got the hang of it, and now we've been growing amaranth for 13 years.”

Naidoo said he was proud of what he had achieved, “It's a really great feeling, I've now come to find out that I'm possibly one of the largest in the country and that's a good accomplishment given how hard it is to grow.

“I hope to start venturing into agro processing and advancing amaranthus into the rest of Africa. Self sustainability and ensuring traditional foods within our country fit back into the food chain is important to help fight our shortage of food.

“For those interested in farming, just give it a shot, be resilient, work hard and be focused. Everything we eat is produced initially by a farmer and we need more of these,” said Naidoo.

The growing of the herbs after the soil is rotated. Photo: Supplied
Red herbs bunched after being harvested. Photo: Supplied
Freshly grown green and red herbs. Photo: Supplied