Today 4 female and 29 male Kirkwood based emerging farmers celebrated by symbolically receiving the key to their farms.
In 2007 the Sundays River Farming Trust (SRFT) was established consisting of four farming entities situated between Addo and Kirkwood in the Sundays River Valley.
Four farms; Willowtree, Siyathemba, Glengrove and Eendracht The farming land were purchased by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) under PLAS (Proactive Land Acquisition Scheme). The Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC) concluded a management agreement with DRDLR for the management of this farming operation. In terms of this management agreement, SRCC became responsible for the day to day management of the farms, together with the identification, mentorship and training of successful black farm managers.
The original permanent farm workers on the four farms were identified as beneficiaries of which there are currently 33. The ultimate aim is to settle commercial black farmers on the land. Existing farm workers get preference in this process. The processes to select the beneficiaries have been developed with the assistance of the Department of Labour, and include various tests to determine which of the workers have the ability to take responsibility as initially farm managers and ultimately part owners of the farm.
Since inception the SRFT has created 40 Permanent and 318 Seasonal Jobs.
The SRCC actively manages the training and development of these emerging farmers and tailors it programmes to the individual.
In 2009 full ABET facilitation for the SRFT were established and training commenced on a daily basis. ABET enables the workers to better themselves and in turn better their social conditions. Being able to read and write is a benefit that most farm workers in the Sundays River Valley do not have.
Four of the emerging farmer Senior Assistant Farm Managers are also part of the SRFT Management Committee, which makes management decisions and recommendations for approval by the SRFT Trustees.
During the past 3 years more than R 3 000 000 was spent on developing new orchards for the SRFT. About 24% of the current planted hectares of the SRFT are still non-bearing. When these new orchards come into production it will make a great contribution to the total yield of the SRFT.
Five years after it was established, SRFT bought 117 hectares of land in Addo for R11 000 000.00. R7 million rand was utilised by the emerging farmers saved up from production of approximately one million export cartons of produce. The remaining R4 million was loaned from the SRCC.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform noted that the department had changed it’s policies to match the product cycle of the various farming products that it had invested in, noting that it takes 2 to 3 years to receive orange and lemons trees from nurseries once the order is placed, and another five years before production is possible.
Spokesperson for the emerging farmers, Mrs Buyiswa Ndyenga, was awarded the prize of Female Entrepreneur for 2011 in the Eastern Cape (Western Region) by the Department of Rural Development & Agrarian Reform. She was also awarded the Provincial Female Top Export Entrepreneur Award for Willowtree Farm for the year 2011/2012.
SRCC MD, Ken Nieuwenhuizen said that the Sundays River Farming Trust has, through the application of good management, training and financial discipline gone from strength-to-strength and is currently one of the few success stories in the economic empowerment process in agriculture in South Africa.
The SRCC has managed to extend a valuable lesson in development of emerging farmers along with a valuable lesson to those greedy GRQ Tenderpreneurs who with their privileged positions and shuffling of paper to and fro do not contribute to the economy at all.
Siyaphambili! SRFT. Siyaphambili! I am sure the government will transfer the land to you soon.