Kaapschon is a 144ha farm on the picturesque Viljoenshoop road in the Elgin district. The farm driveway is lined by an avenue of tall, shady trees and the active farmyard with numerous farm buildings is surrounded by healthy, young orchards. Joseph Hendricks owns Kaapschon and has been farming here since 2004 when he saw the opportunity to buy the farm.
“At the time my fruit trading business was doing well enough to extend my business to farming and production, I made the decision to buy Kaapshon,” explains Joseph. “I bought the farm on my own through a loan from the Land Bank (Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa) without any grants or loans from the government. This worked out well now in the long run and has been a good balance for the fruit trading business.”
The farm is 144ha in total and there are 90ha of orchards of the farm. Since Joseph bought the farm he has replanted many of the orchards as a lot of them were quite old and needed to be replaced. Initially he also had to do a great deal of infrastructure repair as the farm had been somewhat neglected before he bought it. Over the past few years the farm has renewed 60% of the orchards and these young trees are now starting to come into production which is successfully boosting the business’s income. During 2012 Kaapschon also received assistance to plant 5ha of trees from the Hortgro Tree project and these orchards are now also producing well.
“In retrospect I must say that looking at farming from the outside looks a lot rosier than it is when you actually get into the business. Once I had bought the property I realised that this was a tough business to be in especially when you consider the risks and capital involved. Despite this, it has been my vision from the start to be one of the best black farmers in the region and to show the industry around here that it can be done successfully. I also want to progress to the point that I am a 100% commercial export farmer.
“Our management are practical, hands-on farmers who have learned their skills through practical experience on the job. They are an effective team and they make use of new technology in their production practices to continuously improve our production and general farming techniques. My son Wesley is part of the management team. We also make use of technical advisors in various aspects of our farming practice and I strongly believe that this expert advice makes a difference to our bottom line.”
Of the 90ha of orchards, the farm has 74ha of apples and 16 ha of pears. The biggest apple variety is Golden Delicious and the biggest pear variety is Packhams Triumph. Kromco packs and exports Kaapschon’s export fruit.
“The Jobs Fund contacted us in 2015 about the possibility of receiving funding. This was real good news as we still needed to replace a number of our older orchards,” explained Joseph. “We were approved for funding and the process started in 2016. To date we have received a large portion of the funding to establish 27ha of orchards. The Jobs Fund is providing me with funding and I am buying the inputs such as trees, poles and irrigation myself. The varieties that we have received are Sundowner, Rosy Glo, Decarli Gala, Big Bucks and Royal Beaut.
“We currently have 60 permanent employees and 200 seasonal workers and the new orchards will definitely create additional jobs on our property. I believe that in employing people, our responsibility is much more than just paying them a wage for their labour. On the farm we have a good crèche for the young children of our workers and we maintain a strong focus on the spiritual development of our people.
“We received funding for two tractors and I decided to add to the funding to buy better tractors than what are available through the Jobs Fund. We are very grateful to the Jobs Fund as their assistance is really helping us a great deal. I will be adding to these funds with a loan from the Land Bank.”