The Kaap Agri Academy opened its doors in 2009 with the aim of giving emerging farmers the opportunity to improve their agricultural skills and to help them grow their businesses. Since its inception, more than 240 emerging farmers have attended the NQF (Level 2) course in mixed farming, in order to bring their practical and theoretical skills up to standard.
The training is of the highest standard, and is specifically aimed at South-African agricultural challenges. This article features three farmers who tell the story of how their lives, their knowledge and their daily farming methods have been improved by the Academy.
Elize Boer, De Doorns – Table Grapes
“If farming flows in your veins, it cannot be removed by anyone.” Elize Boer plays a major role at the farm Elim in De Doorns. She has an impressive knowledge of table grapes, and her love of farming speaks volumes. Elize grew up on a farm and she was always inspired by her father to learn more from him, and this is where she decided to make farming a living. A true role model and mentor on the farm. According to Elize it is not always easy for a woman to earn respect in the agricultural industry, but she managed to achieve this by applying the knowledge that she acquired along the way.
The Kaap Agri Academy has helped Elize to improve her practical knowledge and her computer skills. It is important for her to understand and master all aspects of farming, and with every class she attended, her knowledge and insight increased. She was able to apply what she was learning on the farm where she is employed and where she currently holds a very senior, responsible position. Even after leaving the Academy, Elize still approaches her lecturers for assistance and advice when she needs it. According to Elize there are three important characteristics needed to attain success in farming: loyalty, a positive attitude and a sincere interest in people.
Wayne Mansfield, Southern Paarl – Citrus (lemons)
“Exposure to farming is a must for young people!” Wayne Mansfield is the youngest of three children. He grew up in Pniel and his parents still live there. According to Wayne their situation improved a lot since he started his famr ing business. He acquired the love for fruit from his youth and his parents taught him that it is important to work hard in order to earn your own money. Wayne started off by purchasing second grade fruit from surrounding farmers, which he packed and then sold to the markets.
One of these farmers approached Wayne and asked him if he would be interested in farming on a small piece of land. Although reluctant at first because of his lack of knowledge, he decided to give it a try. The farmer assisted Wayne in all aspects of his farming business and also made his equipment available to cultivate the land. Wayne is very thankful for the help he received from this farmer and for the knowledge that he acquired at the Kaap Agri Academy. Without this aid it would not be possible to achieve his success in his farming business. In 2014 he started planting lemon trees, and in 2015 he exported 31 tons. In 2017 this total increased by 400% (136 tons).
Wayne is currently sharpening his marketing skills with the intention of establishing his own trademark and range of lemons. According to Wayne it was the financial skills in particular which he has learnt at the Kaap Agri Academy which played a major role in his success. He keeps in touch with his lecturers who still assist him a lot with motivation and knowledge to make a success of his business. Wayne says there are three qualities which a new entrant to the farming business should have, and that is discipline, the preparedness to make sacrifices, and perseverance.
Jackie van der Poll, Riebeek West – Sheep and Grain
“You must have love for farming and for life.” Jackie van der Poll is a very busy woman with a passion for farming, for animals and for nature. She and her husband farms on a large farm in the Riebeek-West area, and when her husband is not available, she is more than able to manage the business. According to Jackie there were times when she felt helpless, until she started with her studies at the Kaap Agri Academy. Since then everything changed. Jackie now feels that she is properly trained and empowered to manage the farm’s daily logistics with confidence. She says that she will never regret the time she spent at the Academy, and that she has the assurance that she can approach the Academy officials any day, should she require any advice or assistance. “To wake up in the morning and to stand on the stoep and to appreciate seeing the rising sun, the land and healthy animals, is by far the best part of this business. Even in difficult times a lover of farming will always have an excuse not to give up.” Jackie feels strongly about the fact that much more should be done to promote agriculture as a career among the younger generation. “Programs should be developed to stimulate the interest of children in agriculture.”