Lemang Agricultural Services, a new era farmer development initiative started in 2012, holds formal in-class training exercises and in-field training in crop production at the Vastfontein Training Centre, just outside of Pretoria, Gauteng.
Says Bankies Malan, Lemang operations manager: “Our multi-crop training farm enables emerging or new era farmers to learn crop production techniques and methods, as well as the correct use of mechanisation using our fleet of John Deere tractors and implements.
“Crops produced on the farm are used to feed children at the nearby Vastfontein orphanage, while the surplus is sold in the open market.”
These combined initiatives make Vastfontein Training Centre an important part of the local community, but its reliance on water availability from the nearby Apies River is sometimes compromised due to cable and pump theft.
“Theft has resulted in sub-optimal crop growth,” says Malan. “As a solution to this, Lemang concluded that a borehole, to ensure year-round access to a reliable water supply, was fundamental to operations.”
Grobank stepped up to help make it happen, with Carolien Samson, responsible for corporate strategy and environmental, social and governance, noting: “Our sponsorship of R150 000 towards the borehole is a way to celebrate our first birthday with an initiative perfectly aligned with Grobank’s corporate social investment objectives to support Sustainable Development goals two (zero hunger) and four (quality education) in the food value-chain. We are happy to have the opportunity to assist with the ongoing viability of this vital training centre.”
Grobank CEO Bennie van Rooy concurs, adding that Grobank firmly believes in the value of partnerships to create long-term value for shareholders, employees, clients and broader society. “We are proud to collaborate with one of our shareholders in providing a sustainable source of water that will benefit the learners at the Vastfontein Training Centre.”
Supporting clients with moratorium
Van Rooy also notes that Grobank’s support is holistic and applies to its entire ecosystem of stakeholders. “One of our most important partnerships is our relationship with clients. Some are facing a number of challenges during the covid-19 lockdown, and Grobank has heard their call and taken action.
“In the last two weeks, Grobank has been providing a four-month capital and interest payment moratorium to clients who approach us for assistance. We have also extended an invitation to all our clients who are experiencing financial distress to contact our relationship managers and various teams.”
With its growing reputation as a bank that becomes a partner, Van Rooy says Grobank sees each solution through the eyes of its partners. “What is significant to our community is significant to us, be it a borehole or a banking alliance and partnership that assists in turbulent times.”