The farm Tulpieskraal near Joubertina has been owned by the Kritzinger family for generations. In 2006, when the opportunity arose to improve the lives of the people employed on the farm, Bokkie Kritzinger assisted 30 of the farm’s employees to buy 25ha of Tulpieskraal. This was achieved through LRAD funding and this 25ha of the farm is owned 100% by the Tulpieskraal Workers’ Trust.
Once this process was completed, both Bokkie Kritzinger and the new owners of the property found that continued government involvement and assistance which had been promised was not forthcoming. At the time that the project was initiated Government had promised to pay the new farm’s electricity bill as well as to enlarge a dam that supplies water to the farm but this never realised. As a result Bokkie had to become involved with taking care of and financing the project at a far greater level than he had anticipated.
“If we had not received assistance and funding from Bokkie, our project would probably have failed,” says Booi van Rooyen, Chairman of the Tulpieskraal Workers’ Trust. “He is the project’s mentor and helps with the day-to-day running of the farm along with the rest of Tulpieskraal.”
The trust was fortunate enough to receive 5ha of Forelle pear trees from the Hortgro tree project a few years ago and these trees are growing really well. To save the costs of duplicating a workforce and implements, the 25ha that belongs to the workers trust is largely farmed as a separate division of the larger Tulpieskraal. The trust has its own administration and bookkeeping system that keeps track of costs and profits and this information is available to and shared with the trustees. The trust hires seasonal workers to prune the trees and harvest the fruit. Bokkie buys the fruit from the Trust and markets it with his own fruit. This saves the trust the packing, packaging and marketing expenses.
Bokkie and Booi agree that it is very important to ensure that beneficiaries are content and paying out an annual dividend to them is very important. This has been possible every year except one year when the farm sustained severe hail damage. “We have 30 employees who are also the 30 beneficiaries of the Trust,” explained Booi.
“The jobs fund grant of plant material, soil preparation, irrigation and trellising infrastructure is a huge help to the project,” says Bokkie. “We removed old orchards and replaced them with 5ha of Packhams’ Triumph pear trees in 2017. These trees are looking great. We are expecting to receive a further 3ha in 2018 and expect to plant these in July or August. We plan to plant the new orchards using trellising poles tall enough to cover the orchards with hail nets. At this stage we do not have the funds to install the nets but if the poles are already in place it will be easier to do this at a later stage when we are able to afford this We have also received a tractor and chemical sprayer cart from the Jobs Fund. This has been very helpful as we are now less reliant on Tulpieskraal for implements.”
The Jobs Fund new orchards are partly part of expansion and partly replacing existing peach orchards. The trust is replacing the peach orchards that are currently still productive with young trees. There will therefore be a few lean years for the trust as these trees mature and start producing. It is therefore fortuitous that the beneficiaries are all employed on Tulpieskraal.
Tulpieskraal has great water security, both from storage dams on the property as well as through their registration of their irrigation quota allotment with the local agricultural irrigation board. One of their neighbours who has very little water security might be considering selling his property in the near future. They see this as a potentially exciting opportunity to increase the land owned by the Tulpieskraal Workers’ Trust.
There is clearly a long tradition and great sense of trust between Bokkie Kritzinger and Booi van Rooyen and the rest of the trustees and it is clear that Bokkie’s motive is to assist the trustees to their lives. This was illustrated when Bokkie and Booi posed for the photo in the orchard as they were upbeat, laughing with familiar jokes and jibes between them. They mentioned that they had been childhood playmates and pretty much grew up together. “We are both in our late forties and have known each other for as long as we can remember. Many of the other trustees I have also known for many years and this kind of shared history makes working together within a relationship of mutual trust very rewarding,” says Bokkie.
“We are blessed to have plenty of water now and the Jobs Fund grant is providing us with security for our future successes,” concluded Booi with a huge smile.