Dunlop back on his feet

Muden emerging farmer, Dunlop Lembethe has been through the wringer. Shortly after a R100 000 irrigation system was installed for him, a hailstorm in November 2009 wiped out his ripening cabbage and tomato crops.

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The harvest would have set him on the path to financial freedom. After reading about him in Farmer’s Weekly, KwaZulu-Natal’s newly formed Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) stepped forward with a grant of R209 400 to help Lembethe.

The ADA appointed the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) as the implementing agency while CPS Seedlings will offer Lembethe an effective support service.

He plans to use the funds to plant 5ha potatoes and 5ha cabbage, and all his fertiliser and input requirements. If he gets an average crop by the end of the year, he can turn enough of a profit to upgrade, pay off his loan and buy inputs for the following year.

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ADA interim manager Anwhar Madhanpall visited Lembethe’s farm. “We were impressed by Dunlop. He got a R200 000 loan in 2004 to buy the farm and has already paid half of it off. He’s a committed farmer keeping his land in production under trying conditions. If we didn’t make an immediate intervention, he might have lost his farm.”

CPS Seedlings marketing manager David Launder said unless Lembethe experiences another disaster, he’ll be able to plough his profits directly into the business. “He’s going to really take off from this. This is the way government can really make a difference. Dunlop has a vested interested in the farm– he bought it with his own money and doesn’t want to see it fail,” Launder said.

The ADA has also made close to R422 000 available to the Isibonelo community soya project in the Winterton area, Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development beneficiaries who received land, but were offered no support to develop it.

These will be the ADA’s two pilot projects, where Kwanalu is used as the implementing agency and mentors and suppliers provide support. In the case of the Isibonelo community, support will be provided by respected local farmer Peter Stockhill.
Kwanalu CEO Sandy La Marque said they were thrilled with the initiatives.

“These are the kind of projects we need to see and hear about. The benefit the Isiboneli project will have in terms of
economic spin-offs, skills development and food security in the community will be amazing.”

She said both projects had a clear business plan. “The plans take into account the variety suited to the area and the market it’s intended for. These projects take a solution-driven approach that will lead to success.”

La Marque added that Kwanalu was taking its role as an implementing agency seriously. “We know this can work, and if we can start duplicating it, it’ll make a valuable difference.”

Lembethe was first featured in Farmer’s Weekly on 24 April 2009 when he spoke about his need for a new irrigation system and lamented the lack of government support for emerging farmers who were neither land claimants nor part of a cooperative.

Following this story, an anonymous donor stepped forward to fund a R100 000 irrigation system, which was installed at no cost by CPS Seedlings.