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Nation in Conversation – Success Stories

  • 18 May 2016
  • 2074
  •  Nation in Conversation
  •  press-release

The focus was on successes achieved among developing farmers and empowerment initiatives, and all three panellists agreed that the secret of success was without a doubt the “will” to do it. “You have to want to be successful,” said Solomon. Solomon left the mining industry and tried his hand at farming because he saw “farming as a renewable and sustainable resource. Once you take the mining resource out of the ground, it can become depleted, farming produce can be replanted each year.”
Solomon started with 7 cows and one hectare about seven years ago. Today he has achieved commercial status. His tips for success are to “seek help from other commercial farmers and be willing to learn and make sure you are insured.”
Phillip Retief shared the Van Loveren success story whereby the family business decided to empower their workers by going into partnership with 116 employees.  The two entities worked together to purchase and develop a new farm in 2004. The workers own 52% of the business which has delivered dividends each year. “The biggest challenge was communication and education in terms of understanding the business. We were dealing with people in different age groups and it was important to manage their expectations.” 
Theo asked Phillip if he had any advice for other commercial farmers who want to get involved in similar schemes. “Do it because you want to, not because you have to, don’t burn your bridges and be patient,” said Phillip.
Lennox shared the Witzenberg PALS (Partners in Agri Land Solutions) project which saw the establishment of an NGO in May last year. The organisation teamed-up with commercial farmers in the area to work from the government’s National Development Plan to meet the development targets in the plan. “Four hundred farmers got involved and pledged their support and involvement. Now, a year later we have identified several individuals in the community and are actively assisting them with skills development and mentorship programmes. The big success so far was the establishment of the Witzenberg PALS centre from where the project is managed.”
Through probing questions and dialogue with the panel members, Theo came to the conclusion that the biggest challenges facing emerging farmers and their success stories were: government bureaucracy, access to funding and resource rights (water and electricity) and the sheer will to succeed. 
Thus concluded the first session of Nation in Conversation. The next session should prove equally interesting under the subject of The Politics of Food. Visit the Nation in Conversation website for more info on the dates, times and subject matter of all the sessions. 

Visit the Nation in Conversation website. Download the Nation in Conversation App from the various App stores and join in the conversation live in real time. Watch all the episodes on Youtube and check the website for the broadcast times of the episodes on the different television networks. Also follow the discussion on Twitter @nationconverse and check out our regular posts on our Facebook page and Instagram 

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