Elandsrivier, Villiersdorp

Elandsrivier is a 200ha farm with around 66ha of apple and pear orchards, situated at Kaaimansgat near Villiersdorp in a hidden valley which is only accessible over a steep pass. In February 2010 the 253 beneficiaries of the Elandsrivier Farm Trust bought Elandsrivier through the Department of Land Affairs LRAD funding. The Trust’s beneficiaries work on Elandsrivier or on neighbouring farms. The Two-a-Day Group has been involved with Elandsrivier from the start of this process and has a 20-year strategic partnership agreement with the Elandsrivier Farm Trust.

Michael Jaarson, who also manages Lakeview Farm has also recently been appointed as the manager at Elandsrivier. “I have been involved with the farm for 6 months. Things had become quite run down over the past few years and I am trying hard to turn things around on the farm. The timing of the Jobs Fund assistance has been very good as Elandsrivier struggles financially as the farm has a considerable debt burden.

“We receive regular ongoing technical and administrative assistance from the farm’s strategic partner Two-a-Day and have regular contact with the company. Two-a-Day also packs and markets the Elandsrivier’s fruit produced on on behalf of the Elandsrivier Farm Trust.

Many of the orchards on the farm are quite old and are well overdue for renewal. The older orchards have a mix of varieties within each orchard with different ripening times and this is difficult with timing spray applications. The steep hilly terrain is challenging. Elandsrivier has a problem with codling moths as there is a Blackwattle forest on the farm which is infested with codling moths. “We plan to start cutting down these trees soon and selling them as firewood,” says Michael. “This will alleviate the problem while creating a job and an alternate source of income for the farm.”

The water supply was also a problem until recently but this has been alleviated through improvements in the pipeline. Elandsrivier expects to have a normal harvest this year as water is no longer a problem.

Elandsrivier has been approved to receive 6ha of apple orchards from the Jobs Fund in 2019. These include Sundowner, Mahana Red and Braeburn. The orchards will replace 6ha of older orchards. This assistance is expected to have a value of R1.5 million rand and this is worth a great deal to improve the farm’s future prospects.

Some of the workers on the farm are beneficiaries and some of them are employees. Daniel Bouwer is a driver and a spray cart operator at Elandsrivier. He is a beneficiary of the Elandsrivier Farm Trust and has worked on the farm since he was 19 and he is now 42. He has been on the farm since before the Trust bought the farm from its previous owner Mr Marais. “We are excited about the new trees we are receiving from the Jobs Find as these will give us a good result and assist our farm to thrive into the future,” says Daniel.

“Two a Day is extremely proud to be Elandsrivier’s strategic partner,” says Dimitri Jacobs, Human Resources Director at Two-a-Day. “We have successfully been involved with government’s Land Reform projects for more than 10 years as a strategic partner and mentor to about 5 LRAD and PLAS scheme farms. Elandsrivier started off with many challenges which included a balance of grant not being paid by government. However, we decided not to walk away and have helped the farm with financial, management and technical assistance since the start of our partnership and we believe that this plays a pivotal role in the success of the farm. We will continue with our strategic and technical involvement with Elandsrivier and we are very grateful for the funding that the farm is receiving from the Jobs Fund as it will ensure that more jobs are created and that the farm becomes more profitable over time.”