Rovon Farm is a 92 hectare property and is situated on the outskirts of Louterwater. The farm originally belonged to Hattie and Judi Moggee and in 2003 they sold the farm to the Rovon Workers’ Trust. Later the Rovon Workers’ Trust amalgamated with the neighbouring Jay Dee Farm’s equity scheme and shareholders. There were 30 shareholders from Rovon and 100 people from Jay Dee (JD) who had bought their shares through the LRAD government scheme. The name was changed and today the property is owned by the JD Rovon Workers’ Trust.
Wilfred Malgas is the General Manager at JD Rovon Workers’ Trust and has been part of the JD Rovon Workers’ Trust since it was established. Previously Wilfred was part of the management team at Jay Dee Farm. When it became clear that there was a problem with the previous manager, he gave up his secure job at Jay Dee Farms to take over the management at JD Rovon Workers’ Trust to work towards making the farm in which he owned a share a success.
Wilfred explained that the farm is battling financially due to past financial mismanagement and that they have not been able to pay dividends for the past few years. “We are extremely fortunate to have a strategic commercial partner in DC Fruit Packers. The Managing Director Riaan Landman also mentors us,” says Wilfred. “Riaan has come a long way with our project, since 2014 when we realised that the farm had no funds. DC Fruit Packers stepped in as our commercial partner and has assisted us with production capital since then. We are very grateful to DC Fruit Packers for their assistance. All our fruit is packed at DC Fruit Packers and the export fruit is marketed through Core.”
“We have been involved with JD Rovon Workers’ Trust since 2010 when they started delivering fruit to us and when they developed severe cash flow problems in 2014 we stepped in to assist them,” says Riaan Landman. We have been assisting them with production capital since then as well as with mentoring when they require assistance. The careful financial management by the Trust and the Auditors Moore and Stevens have placed JD Rovon Workers’ Trust on a better path and their future prospects have improved considerably. They are in the process of applying for Land Bank funding which will be of great help to them.”
“The financial assistance that we are receiving from the Jobs Fund could not have come at a better time,” stressed Wilfred. “We are truly grateful for this and it feels to us as if this was heaven sent. The inputs that we are receiving as part of this project are 4.6 hectares of apples to be planted this year (2018) and a further 1.4ha of apples to be planted in 2019. We expect the trees will be the new improved Royal Gala strain Big Bucks and we are excited about this. This gives us hope for the future. Our farm is in an early production area of the Langkloof so the Big Bucks should do really well for us. Whole our fruit ripens early the downside is that it often rains less here than elsewhere in the valley.”
The farm is 92 hectares in size and has 65 hectares of apples and 5 hectares of Forelle pears which were part of the Hortgro tree project. The pears that they received from Hortgro are growing and producing very well and are certainly helping with the farm’s cash flow. The farm has 31 permanent workers and 13 of these are shareholders. The number of shareholders has decreased over the years from 130 to 90 and the other shareholders work at Jay Dee and elsewhere.
“I have hope for the future as the funding, mentoring and other assistance we receive will help us through this difficult time and help us succeed,” says Wilfred. “The hail we received in 2015 and the drought that we have experienced in 2016 and 2017 added to our existing problems. Fortunately, after our recent good rains, we have enough water to get us through the current season. We are also currently in the process of applying for a loan from the Land Bank.
“The farm has some younger orchards and our oldest trees are 30 years old. When I took over here in 2014 I was advised to prune back the older trees vigorously. This has had the desired increase in productions and we are still get good productions from these orchards.
“We are extremely grateful to the Jobs Fund for the trees we are receiving. At the top of our wish list for the future is new tractors and sprayers. Our tractors are very old, pretty close to antiques, and kept together with soldering iron and prayer! It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep them running.”