WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
When I was building my Bonsmara herd, one of the largest breeders in the country and the owner of Kroon Vee, Jan van Zyl, whom I had befriended, told me not to sell bull calves for cash but rather to swop them with other farmers for heifers in order to grow my herd faster. He also motivated me and kept me going with his story of how he started out working for commercial farmers who were never kind to him.
AND YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
Winning the Voermol Cattle Farmer of the Year award in 2015. Not only was it about winning, it was also about the motivation and confidence I gained by being on the level of the best livestock farmers in the country.
WHO HAS MADE THE MOST VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR SUCCESS?
My mentor, Cois Harman. I’ve learnt a lot from him as a farmer but he’s exceeded his role as a mentor and contributed a lot to my success and that of the farm.
WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH THE NEIGHBOURING FARMERS?
We have an amazing relationship with farmers around us, both black and white. We have a common goal and mostly the same challenges.
DID YOU FIND IT A CHALLENGE TO SECURE FINANCING, AND WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER OTHER FARMERS WHO ARE IN NEED OF FUNDS?
It really was a big battle to financeour operations. I think the most important thing is to get good advice from knowledgeable people. Cois played a big role in assisting me to get financed. Farmers should build a good financial record and try as hard as possible to be self-sufficient to a point where they can farm cash. Thanks to Cois, that is where we are. We have no credit, which works for us.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF INPUT SUPPLIERS LIKE ANIMAL HEALTH COMPANIES?
The input suppliers and the role they play in our operations are important. They give us sound technical advice, which helps us. It makes sense to have a good relationship with them.
IF YOU COULD GIVE THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Farmers need title deeds in order to make a success of their businesses. Most black farmers struggle to get financed because they do not own their land, and it delays their progress. The minister needs to consider this if we are to move forward as an industry.
HAS ORGANISED AGRICULTURE BEEN SIGNIFICANT TO YOUR BUSINESS AT ALL?
We need organised structures. That is where we get the most information and build relationships with other farmers and industry role players. If it weren’t for the farmers’ day where I won the raffle, I wouldn’t be where I am today – and that was organised by such a structure. Farmers need organised structures to deal with issues affecting all of us.