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Raison project helps struggling farmers

Raison project helps struggling farmers

 

Die Burger 9 Dec 2016 Samantha van den Berg

Grapes along the Orange river are dried in the sun to make raisons. (Photo as illustration.)

 

 

Earl Loxton

 

 

 

The completion of an empowering project through which 55 small-scale farmers were trained and 220ha of raison grapes were established is one of the highlights in the dry-fruit industry.

The project was launched four years ago in the Eksteenskuil Farmers Community in Keimoes, with the help from the Dry Fruit Technical Services (Hortgro).

According to Mr Dappie Smit, manager of DFTS, a total of 220 ha raison grapes were planted at 55                                         small-scale farmers Eksteenskuil.

DFTS initiated and managed the project together with help from several other organisations who rendered services and who helped to finance the R25 million that were needed to run the project.

National Treasury also contributed through the Jobs Fund about R18 million to the project.

The struggling small-scale farmers were already producing raisons along the Orange River, but due to lack of knowledge, lack of technical training, support and no access to markets, they could not achieve their full commercial potential.

According to Mr Smit 220 ha raison grapes were planted over three years after proper soil preparation was done.  DFTS supervised and gave advise during the establishment phase.

Chris Krone, a former fruit producer of Tulbagh and consultant in the fruit industry was involved in drawing up the business plan for the project.

Earl Loxton a raison and wine grape producer and a beneficiary of DTS’s empowerment project received the South African Fruit Industry’s price for the best beginner.

According to a statement, Loxton started about five years back when he took over on plot 593 in Eksteenskuil.  The land was not profitable and the established vines was old and neglected.  Loxton started to revive the old vines and established new vines.  Today he has 35 ha established raison grapes and 7,5 ha wine grapes on the plot. He also established an additional 9,3 ha raison grapes with help from the DFTS project.

Loxton has a diploma in agriculture from the Elsenburg Agricultural College outside Stellenbosch.


Johannes (Hannes) Gouws

Johannes (Hannes) Gouws
Johannes (Hannes) Gouws

He is 65 and he has lived here on Ribbokeiland all of his life. His father bought the farm in the 1940s and Hannes took over the farm in 1974.

He is married and has six sons and one daughter. His daughter is a teacher and his sons have a variety of jobs, one works for the local council one works as an ambulance driver and the others just have casual labour. He has nine grandchildren.

He has 3.1 Ha of land of which 0.25 is under vines which he planted himself. Every day he wakes at 6a.m. His breakfast is some coffee and some porridge or bread. He is working on his vines by 7p.m. Since the plot of land under vines is small, Hannes does all of the work himself and everything is done by hand. He has to keep the land cleared of weeds and do all of the watering. The whole family helps with the pruning.

“I sells my raisins to the local markets in Keimoes. My raisins were graded 94% choice grade for 2016.

Before farming raisins, I was the local broom maker. I grew the grasses for the brooms on my land and then made the brooms. Now I want to start slowing down and I need to encourage my sons to take up farming and I can help them. One of my sons has been trained by EAC and when we have more vines we will hire equipment from EAC to help us. I can irrigate my land [with flood irrigation].

I am a very passionate farmer and it runs in my blood. This is a very rewarding business and I hope one day all my knowledge and love for farming will continue to be a legacy in our family.”


2011 Flood

A period of unusually heavy rainfall, resulting from the La Nina and Southern Oscillation mechanism, affected much of Southern Africa from late December 2010. This led to flooding problems in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Rainfall within the catchment of the Orange River resulted in severe problems in the Northern Cape from January 2011, as the Orange River discharge and peak flow reached their highest levels for nearly a quarter of a century.

2011 Flood 2011 Flood 2011 Flood 2011 Flood 2011 Flood

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