A group of up-and-coming livestock farmers in the Free State are on cloud nine after hosting their very first commercial farmers’ auction with a turnover of R2.5 million.
The Kaallaagte Farmers’ Association, representing a group of 15 newly-commercialising black farmers, hosted their auction on the grounds of the Gilead Boerevereniging between Lindley and Petrus Steyn.
Nearly 50 people were in attendance. Those present described the day as a groundbreaking development in the Free State’s agricultural landscape.
Joseph Khahleli, the Kaallaagte chairperson, said he was surprised by the turnout.
“Today was such a great success. We’ve come a long way as Kaallaagte farmers. It’s a very big achievement for us and we are so grateful that the commercial farmers of the Free State are helping us to grow and become better producers.
“Our focus as Kaallaagte farmers is quality and that’s why we are in a position to host our own first auction on this scale,” he said.
Khahleli, who has been the chairperson since last year, said it wasn’t easy starting the association in 2014 because of their choice of cattle.
“We were farming with ordinary cattle and some of us we were taking our livestock to auctions not knowing how the animals should look in terms of quality and what the requirements were. Now, we are starting to buy bulls and developing our livestock,” Khahleli said.
Farmers praised for livestock quality
On the day, over 200 livestock animals made their way into the auction ring for bidders to claim with price accepted by the seller.
The executive director of Vleissentraal Bethlehem and auctioneer of the day, Lukas Kleynhans, was highly impressed with the quality livestock presented.
“The Kaallaagte farmers had outstanding cattle, and this showed in the prices we got today. We had a turnover of R2.5 million for which we are extremely grateful, so I can really say that today was a huge success,” Kleynhans said.
Some of the cows were auctioned for as high as R15 500 each. One of the highlights, Kleynhans said, was a bull auctioned for R19 000.
Marlize Nel, animal health technician from the Free State department of agriculture and rural development, was also pleased with what she saw. She inspected the animals beforehand.
“I was here today to look at the general health of the animals and I must say that there were some good animals here today,” Nel told Food For Mzansi.
Meanwhile Kleynhans wished the Kaallaagte farmers well and affirmed that they were on the right track.
“They can really be proud about the quality livestock they brought here today. With their quality of livestock and the prices they received today, they can only move forward.
“Everyone [local commercial farmers] bought into this auction and the farmers were not skeptical about bidding. Large feedlots in the area were on board and they supported the emerging farmers very well,” said Kleynhans.
As Vleissentraal, he noted that they were honoured to be part of the Kaallaagte farmer’s first commercial auction. “It is a long-term investment to invest money in farming, but I am sure they will do very well going forward.”
Farming mentors impressed
Hannetjie Human, a local farmer who has been instrumental in the development of the Kaallaagte farmers, described the day as a “huge success”.
“It was a wonderful day and the members of the Kaallaagte Farmers’ Association are so happy with the prices they have received today. With the commission that the farmers earned, I’m sure they will now use it to build their farming businesses even further until the next auction.”
Human expressed certainty that there would be many more Kaallaagte auctions hosted soon.
Dirk van Rensburg, another farming mentor, described the Kaallaagte farmers as competent livestock breeders who are quality-focused.
“There used to be a culture among the farmers that the more cattle they had, the better they were as farmers. They were terribly focused on quantity over quality,” he explained.
But that has all changed. “Now I think they are emerging as commercial black farmers who are able to distinguish which is more important. This to me, is a sign of major growth,” Van Rensburg said.