EC farmers creaming it by sharing
Fresh input of R32m boosts jobs, milk output
INVESTMENT in a R32 million dairy parlour in Tsitsikamma by the Eastern Cape government is set to greatly benefit the lives of a rural community uprooted from their ancestral land at the height of the Group Areas Act.
The state-of-the-art facility was opened on Thursday by Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane. As a result, the Wittekleibosch dairy farm in Tsitsikamma has increased milk production to 16 000 litres a day, boosting annual turnover to R31m while providing employment for 40 people.
The Wittekleibosch farm where the facility is located was the first land to be returned to the victims of the Group Areas Act. They were the first land claimants to receive their land in 1994.
As part of the department’s ongoing programme to commercialise the province’s agriculture in the 2016/17 financial year, R32m was injected to construct a new dairy parlour with machinery milking about 66 cows at a go and yielding the owners 16 000 litres of milk daily, which is sold to dairy product producer Parmalat.
Qoboshiyane said there has been too much talk about the transformation of South Africa’s economy, with little or no actual action.
“Programmes like this one, where the government invested some of its money into the land owned by land claimants, who partner with a white farmer and sell their milk to a commercial company, shows the beautiful results we get when we transform the economy,” said Qoboshiyane.
During the height of apartheid, about 152 AmaMfengu families from Tsitsikamma were forcefully removed from their land, which included the 650 hectare Wittekleibosch farm and surrounding farms.
Since the land was handed back to the affected families in 1994, they formed a partnership with dairy farmer Johan du Plessis to continue dairy farming in the area, forming a commercial trading entity known as the Wittekleibosch Development Trust.
In the partnership the Ama Mfengu contributed with their land, existing infrastructure and dairy parlour machinery while Kleikamma Trust, owed by Du Plessis, contributed with its technical skills and cattle.
Du Plessis said in an earlier interview that the farm produces roughly about 6.5 million litres of milk a year through the dairy, milking about 1 000 cows on average, which is sold to Parmalat.
“We started here 15 years ago with the share milking business. We supply the animals and implements and they (beneficiaries) give the land and facilities like this (milking parlour). We have been going on for a long time on a 50/50 base and two years ago we changed to a 60/40 percent base where they got a 60 percent interest and we got 40 percent interest as commercial farmers.”
Du Plessis said the forward outlook for the facility is that it will be able to milk 1 500 cows and a production of 7.5 million litres of milk a year.
One of the beneficiaries, Zilindile Blouw, said: “Today it’s thanksgiving day, as we show our gratefulness to our government, which has helped us to achieve our dreams. Our dream now is to move from being partners to the next level of being commercial farmers. We will make sure this facility will never be a white elephant. We will work to keep it operating.”
Wittekleibosch Dairy Trust farm worker Mercy Bhambatha shows Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane how to milk dairy cows at the Wittekleibosch farm.