Black cattle farmers will be getting stakes in three different companies owned by leading South African farmer Nick Serfontein, the chairperson of the Sernick Group, one of the country’s foremost agri-businesses.
Serfontein, who served on Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s land reform and agriculture panel, made this announcement at the annual Sernick Farmers’ Day earlier today. More than 400 up-and-coming farmers and dignitaries, including Free State MEC of agriculture and land reform, William Bulwane, attended the event on the Liebenbergstroom farm in Edenville.
Top performing participants in the Sernick Emerging Farmers programme will be invited to become members of the Black Emerging Farmers’ Trust, which will hold 50% shares in Temong (Pty) Ltd. Temong owns 26% in Sernick Abattoir (Pty) Ltd, 51% in Sernick Wholesaling (Pty) Ltd and 26% in Vierfontein farm and feedlot, which was recently acquired by the Sernick Group.
Deputy Director of AgriSA Christo van der Rheede welcomed the announcement by Sernick. Speaking to Food For Mzansi he said, “I am really impressed with the work being done by Serfontein in the space of black farmer development (in South Africa). He is a role model for many other commercial farmers.”
Van der Rheede adds that this model – of giving ownership to deserving new farmers who have a proven performance record – could be used as an example for others commercial farmers.
The Sernick Emerging Farmers programme is presented in partnership with the Jobs Fund. The programme is divided into three categories. Altogether 660 farmers are admitted into the programme, starting out in tier 1. All the participants are given SETA accredited training and an opportunity to exchange their old stock with good quality cattle that fetch higher prices at the market.
A total of 300 farmers are then chosen from the 660 to form tier 2. Here they are equipped with technical skills to enable them to develop their own herds, while maintaining a healthy cash flow to meet their working capital requirements. Thereafter 50 farmers are chosen to graduate from tier 2 to tier 3. They are taught new skills to help them grow into practical commercial entities with their own reproductive capacity.
According to Patrick Sekwatlakwatla, a representative of the Sernick Emerging Farmers programme, 22 farmers from tier 3 have already been identified to now become members of the Black Emerging Farmers’ Trust.
Van der Rheede says although Sernick is not the only agricultural powerhouse doing great work in developing black farmers, “Serfontein has a unique model. That is a model that we should replicate all over South Africa, wherever possible, because it is not only about it for black empowerment points, but also about developing people. At the end of the day, they (emerging farmers) can become independent and commercial in their own right.”
Bulwane delivered the opening address, highlighting black farmers’ struggle to access funding and the importance of encouraging more women and youth to enter the agricultural sector. He further encouraged farmers to make inputs on the issue on land reform in the country. This follows parliament’s extension of the deadline for public comment on the proposed Constitutional amendment bill to expropriate land without compensation. Public comment is invited until 29 February 2020.
The Sernick Farmers’ Day also saw 140 participating farmers receiving their national certificates in animal production during a special ceremony. Mavis Motlokwa was announced as the Female Farmer of the Year for 2019 and Bodulo Mabote is the Farmer of the Year.