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Black farmers mustn’t pin hope on government

Forget about government and its promises – rather forge partnerships with commercial farmers.

That’s the advice given to prospective black farmers from Sernick Agriculture Group’s Nick Serfontein.

Serfontein was a panellist at the Nampo harvest day in South Africa’s North West Province where he discussed the Land Bank’s new financial model for accelerated farmer development.

The model entails the Land Bank partnering with commercial farmers to set up leverage financing for partnership agreements with black farmers who have access to land, but not funding.

Sernick manages a project like this. They’ve invested in training black prospective farmers and established a training facility. Their black partners also have full access to Sernick’s value chain, e.g. the group’s feed lot.

200 farmers are ready

During the panel discussion, Serfontein said he can instantly mobilise 200 white commercial farmers to create similar projects if the funding is available.

“Many are willing. An Eastern Cape farmer said he has 20 000 ha land available for a partnership project if he could get funding for infrastructure, and a loan from the Land Bank to start production.”

Patrick Sekwatlakwatla, head of corporate social development for Sernick, praised chief executive officer of the Land Bank, TP Nchocho and his management for the new financial model and Nchocho’s ground level involvement in the project.

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Nick Serfontein from Sernick Agriculture Group. 

Success

Nchocho said there is also no reason why the Land Bank cannot finance projects on communal grounds.

Community members just need to agree to the lease agreement. An example of this is a macadamia project on communal ground established in the Eastern Cape.

The bank wants the assurance that this project is structured in a way for the bank to successfully recover its money.

Nchocho said the Land Bank’s mandate is not to hand out subsidies but to act as a facilitator in partnership agreements.

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TP Nchocho, chief executive officer of the Land Bank.

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