Empowering New Farmers in Suurbraak, Western Cape
Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development recently visited an ambitious agricultural empowerment initiative in the Suurbraak community, outside Swellendam in the Western Cape.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is working together with the private sector to form a cooperative that will initially consist of five new farmers who are leasing land from the Suurbraak Trust. The land, 500 hectares in total, will be pooled, and with the assistance of a local commercial farmer acting as mentor, dry land crops will be established on a commercially viable scale.
The model allows for more members to join the co-op, and future plans include the acquisition of suitable agricultural land on the open market in order to expand the operation outside of the Suurbraak area.
Van Rensburg said the reason for his visit was to establish how people on the ground experience government interventions. "This project is breaking new ground for all the parties involved. This includes the Swellendam Municipality, who administers the land lease agreements; the Suurbraak community, whose farmers are involved; the private sector who is partnering government in rolling out services; and the commercial farmers who will act as mentors to the co-op".
Van Rensburg told the new farmers that an incredible opportunity is awaiting them, but hard work and lots of perseverance will be needed from now on. "It is my dream to see you become successful commercial farmers, but the process will take time, as growing an agricultural enterprise does not happen overnight".