History of the area
The first few families settled here during the 1920’s. The rest were awarded plots during the mid – 1950’s after the white farmers who originally cultivated the land were relocated elsewhere.
The total area of land comprises approximately 2 000 hectares of which about 600 hectares is under irrigation. The rest is remnant or waste land. Originally the irrigateble land was splintered into approximately 200 small plots. During the 1970’s the plots were consolidated into 147 units, 3, 86 ha average size.
Eksteenskuil is an Act 9 area and the land is being held in trust by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs. Currently 40% of farmers have ownership whilst the rest is still waiting for transfer of their title deeds.
The TRANCRAA (Transformation of Certain Coloured Rural Areas Act) process was completed during November 2005 as far as community participation was concerned. The onus is now on the Minister to conclude the process and transfer the rest of the land to its rightful owners. Correspondence in this regard was conducted with the Provincial Department of Land Affairs as recently as March 2008 (Appendix 1). Tenure has always been a burning issue and has had an adverse effect on the economic development of the area.
The Eksteenskuil Farmer’s Association (EFA) was established in 1994 to contribute to the social and economic upliftment of the historically disadvantaged small – scale irrigation farmers of the Lower Orange River Valley in the Keimoes area in the Northern Cape. Since 1995 EFA has been facilitating the export of raisins produced by its members to Fair Trade markets in Europe via Traidcraft (UK) and the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA).
The main objectives of EFA were:
- To organise the farmers in a structured unit.
- Advocacy and lobby for small–scale farmers.
During 2003 EFA and its 80 raisin producing members (113 members in total) obtained FLO –accreditation. This accreditation created the opportunity for the organisation to generate a very needed and useful income in the form of a premium ($0.11 /kg) paid by the buyers to the community. This matter will be elaborated upon under Social Responsibility, (4), below.
In 2006 the members of the EFA recognised that their legal status as an association was a hindrance to their ability to participate in the market and the value chain. The decision was therefore taken to investigate other more appropriate legal entities.
Following a comprehensive consultative process, the Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative was registered in December 2006. In the course of 2007 the affairs of the EFA were gradually being transferred to the Co-operative. At the EFA – AGM held on the 24th of July 2007 it was decided to dissolve the organisation on 30 September 2007 and to hand over the assets of the organisation to the EAC.