Free State farmworker empowerment initiative

A commercial farmer in the Free State, Eddie Prinsloo (63), is empowering his farmworkers through a land ownership initiative in which he sold a 1 500ha farm to the government on condition that his farmworkers be joint owners of the farm.

Free State farmworker empowerment initiative
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Prinsloo is now in the process of helping seven male and two female farmworkers formalise a communal property association that will own the farm and also the sheep farming business being run on the land.

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Currently, the farmworkers have a 49% shareholding in Donkerhoek Farming, while Prinsloo retains a 51% shareholding.

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Prinsloo told Farmer’s Weekly that after five years the farmworkers would fully own and operate the sheep farming business.

“Some of these farmworkers worked for me for more than 20 or 30 years. They are excellent stockmen. What I am helping them with is developing their financial management and administration skills,” he said.

“We farmers should go ahead with empowering our people. Don’t wait for government to do it,” Prinsloo said.

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He added, however, that it was vital for government to start supporting the Land Bank in identifying legitimate land reform beneficiaries and projects, and then offer soft loans to help them achieve sustainable profitability as soon as possible.

Prinsloo had recently hosted an information day that highlighted how other farmers could also empower their farmworkers.

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He said the response had been enthusiastic, but farmers said they did not want to have to wait as long as he had to for government to carry out its responsibilities in this regard.

Meanwhile, Gerhard Kriel, CEO of Free State Agriculture said: “It is important that examples of success stories like this one are [highlighted] more often.”

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Lloyd Phillips joined Farmer’s Weekly in January 2003 and is now a Senior Journalist with the publication. He spent most of his childhood on a Zululand sugarcane farm where he learned to speak fluent Zulu. After matriculating in 1993, Lloyd dreamed of working as a nature conservationist. Life’s vagaries, however, had different plans for him and Lloyd ended up sampling various jobs in South African agriculture before becoming a proud member of the Farmer’s Weekly team.