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Milking the land through a partnership 

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

State of the Nation Address

A dairy farming partnership between land claimants of Amamfengu and white farmers in Tsitsikamma in the Eastern Cape has resulted in a skills transfer programme.

The Wittekleibosch Dairy Farm was the first farm to be returned to black people in 1994 when the Amamfengu people successfully won a court bid for the return of their land. The group had been forcibly removed in 1977.

Upon return of the land existing dairy farmer Johan Du Plessis partnered with the land owners. The partnership would see the dairy farmers transfer skills to the land owners and also contribute cows and equipment to the partnership.
The representative of the land owners, Zilindile Blouw, said the partnership began in 2002 and is now selling milk to Parmalat.

“During peak season, we produce around 18 000 litres of milk,” Blouw told Vuk’uzenzele. He said the partnership had enabled the land owners to start their own dairy farm.

The farm makes between R33 and R36 million annually, said Du Plessis. “In the past 12 months, we made a good profit,” he added.Cows being milked by a top-of-the-range milking facility at the Wittekleibosch Dairy Farm in Tsitsikamma in the Eastern Cape. The parlour was donated by the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform at the tune of R32 million.

The partnership not only shares in the profits of the farm but it also has a share scheme on the cows produced. 

 “Every year we have stocktaking. If, for example, the farmer initially brought in 600 cows and we brought in 350, at the end of the period, each party takes their initial number of cows back, and the remaining cows – produced in that year - are divided equally between each party,” said Blouw.

The joint venture farming project was boosted when the Eastern Cape’s Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform invested R32 million. The department built a rotary dairy parlour for the farm which Du Plessis compares with moving from “a bicycle to a Mercedes” because of its state-of-the-art facilities.

The farm services 152 families from four villages. According to Blouw, several of the villagers are receiving training on how to be dairy farmers. 

“We identified people who are interested in farming and they are receiving training,” he said, adding that Du Plessis is their mentor and provides guidance when it comes to their own farm too.