From small to commercial farmers

24 November 2010

The Red Meat Pilot Project will see the government and the Bloemfontein Abattoir providing 11 black Free State farmers with cattle and helping them to become fully commercial red meat farmers.

Speaking at the launch of the project on Saturday, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said South Africa needed to hear from black commercial farmers who were passionate about their work.

The launch followed the signing of partnership agreements between the 11 farmers and the Bloemfontein Abattoir.

Job creation, farm production

The project falls under the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s recapitalisation programme, which aims to increase agricultural production, guarantee food security, stimulate job creation and graduate small scale farmers to commercial farmers.

The farmers will run their red meat production arms under the watchful eye of the department and the Bloemfontein Abattoir.

Nkwinti told the gathering of black farmers and officials that the success of the programme would be confirmed when black commercial farmers could “stand alone”.

The minister warned that establishing black commercial farmers was not a “talking thing” but “a doing thing, a farming thing, a business thing”.

‘I can compete with any farmer’

Free State farmer Pitso Sekhoto, speaking on behalf of the 11 farmers involved in the project, declared that he was now a proper commercial farmer.

“I am proud to say I am a South African commercial farmer, I can compete with any farmer of any colour now.”

Sekhoto said he received R9-million from the government to buy a Free State farm and had developed it to its current worth of an estimated R16-million.

He supplied milk to Woolworths and apples to fresh produce markets in Gauteng. He also bred cattle.

“We need to stand up as farmers because we as commercial farmers still need the help of government,” Sekhoto said.

‘Go out and make things happen’

He urged emergent black farmers to “go out and make things happen,” adding that he had not left the corporate world to come and relax on his farm.

“I want to make a success, I want to be judged on what I do.”

Free State MEC for rural development Fezi Ngubentombi said the government liked emergent farmers to say they were not emerging anymore.

“It must stop somewhere,” Ngubentombi said.

She commended black farmers for moving forward and not waiting around for government money.