Capespan leads new initiative in land transformation and empowerment
[Article taken from Capespan COURIER – April 2004]Brandwag farm near Kirkwood in Eastern Cape was abuzz with excitement on 25th March, 2004. The Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Ms Thoko Didiza and local celebrities travelled to Kirkwood to join the 71 newly empowered Brandwag employees to celebrate the imminent transfer of 75% ownership of the farm into the name of their Luthando Trust.
The Sundays River Land Reform Initiative (SRLRI) has initiated five such empowerment projects to date; Brandwag being the first to celebrate transfer. SRLRI was formed in 2002 after frank and open discussions between Mr John Gomomo (ANC Member of Parliament for Sundays River constituency), Mr Johan Erasmus (Charmain of SRLRI), representatives of private packhouses, commercial farmers, and representatives of previously disadvantaged individuals. Today all these stakeholders are committed to the goals of SRLRI and have been enthusiastically joined by representatives of many local organisations such as The Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Sundays River Irrigation Board, Land Bank, Eastern Cape Development Corporation, Kirkwood Farmers Association, Sundays River African Farmers Association and Citrus Growers Association. In total, it is anticipated that during 2004 more than 500 employees will be empowered, as they become owners of their own businesses, farming citrus on over 500 hectares - for their own account.Minister Didiza expressed her delight that the SRLRI had founded itself and initiated so many empowerment projects spontaneously. “It sets an example to others. It can be done, and it is best done voluntarily”. She also had lots of advice peppered with words of encouragement and caution for the newly empowered workers who listened intently. The Minister was photographed with a banner displaying the Thandi logo – soon to be displayed on Brandwag’s export cartons.Thandi is the BEE project initiated by the Capespan Foundation whose mission is to establish black empowerment projects in South Africa, transforming workers into owners and co-owners of fruit farms.Thandi is also the brand name promoted by strategic partners Fairtrade; who will be marketing Brandwag’s export produce throughout the United Kingdom together with all the other Thandi fruits already on display in Tesco and Co-op stores. Thandi is rapidly being established as a household name throughout the United Kingdom Fairtrade Foundation was formed in England over 10 years ago with the express goal of ensuring that disadvantaged third world producers really do benefit from fairer trade. Last year over £100million Fairtrade products were sold in supermarkets throughout the United Kingdom. The Fairtrade partnership should increase Brandwag’s capital value as the premiums paid by supermarket chains for Fairtrade products are ploughed back to the farms for infrastructural and communal development.Luthando Trust paid R5.8million for their share in Brandwag Farm; and holds an option to purchase the remaining 25% shareholding in five years time at whatever the market value is in 2009. This ensures that all the parties share the incentive to improve and develop both the farm and the market for its citrus. The funds came from an LRAD grant from the Department of Land Affairs and loans from Hermanus Potgieter. The British Department for International Development and USAID both assisted the application processes with funding for specialised financial consultants Johan Hamman and Deloittes Touche & Tohmatsu.