The last episode of the first series of Vir die liefde van die land (For the love of the land) airs this week, bringing a sad moment for fans who have gotten used to their weekly dose of inspiring farmer stories.
The season is ending with a bang though, as viewers are introduced to the amazing story of Aldrin Lawrence. The 51-year-old farms in the Mara area of the Vhembe district of Limpopo, near a little farming town called Buysdorp.
He operates a 30-hectare mixed farming enterprise in this area named after his ancestor, French Huguenot Coenraad De Buys. He passionately breeds livestock, broiler chickens and vegetable crops including potatoes and soybeans.
The unpretentious agricultural TV show celebrating Mzansi’s unsung heroes of agriculture airs on VIA, DStv channel 147, Thursday at 18:00. It is hosted by Ivor Price, co-founder of Food For Mzansi, and Piet Potgieter, manager for developing agriculture at the VKB Group.
Building on the foundation of his father
He shares that his foundation as a farmer was in fact laid out by his father, who also devoted his life to producing food.
“I would say that I have always been a farmer, since childhood. My father farmed, so we grew up on the farm and always had to help him. The fact that I had to do farm work as a child I think definitely had an impact on my interest in farming,” Lawrence makes known in the episode.
However, Lawrence shares that he had a competing love. As a young man, his interest lay in geography and geology, which he studied but never completed a qualification in.
Eventually he stopped fighting what he was always meant to do and returned to his ancestral land to be a full-time farmer. At the time his father was deeply concerned that none of his children would take his farming legacy forward.
In the episode, Lawrence talks in detail about his farming challenges, the strenuous work that is farming and how he never thought he would one day end up as an agriculturalist.
The power of mentorship
In the episode neighbouring farmers and Lawrence’s mentors, Japie van der Goot and Stephen Fick, speaks candidly and with great admiration about Lawrence.
“We’ve always had a friendship bond,” Van der Goot explains. “The role I try to play in Aldrin’s life is through giving him advice, but one must also be careful as a mentor that it is not only your ideas (you put forward).
“I believe the farmer must also be exposed to other ideas and that’s why we agreed that it’s healthy for other mentors to also get involved,” he says.
Fick, on the other hand, conveys why he believes Lawrence’s passion for agriculture adds to him being such an excellent farmer.
“He has a passion for the industry and that’s the most important thing, and it is also why I help him. You feel good when you see someone make a success and you know that his or her passion is there,” Fick says.
The benefits of VKB membership
VKB Group managing director, Koos Janse van Rensburg, talks in the episode about what membership or organised agricultural enterprises can mean for farmers.
He shares how new producers can benefit from a membership with VKB.
“Farmers have access to our infrastructure, which has been established over more than 100 years. This includes all inputs a farmer needs, financing, agricultural services and risk management. It also includes marketing,” van Rensburg explains.
- The episode featuring van Niekerk airs Thursday, 26 November at 18:00 on VIA, DStv channel 147 with further repeats on Saturdays at 10:30, Sundays at 20:00 and Mondays at 08:00.