Dairy farm their ‘lifeblood’

BLACK AND WHITE: The Vrede dairy farm’s project directly benefits 87 beneficiaries, as 200 of its 500 cows are actively milking. PICTURE: ANN7

OPERATIONS at the Vrede Dairy farm are well under way, farm employee Lettie Mokoena said. Having worked at the farm since 2015, she told News Channel ANN7 that she had benefited from its establishment. She said that she had been working her shifts every day for three years and believes that the negative media around the project may cost her the employment she so desperately needs. “So, in short, we are happy as employees of Vrede Dairy because some of us are benefiting and we are helping our families and we provide for them. Some of us wish to study further,” she said.

In his 2014 state of the province address provincial Premier Ace Magashule said the project, which was initiated in 2013 was progressing well. “The first phase of this project entails setting up of a dairy parlour with an in-house capacity of up to 1000 cows,” he said. Magashule said that a total number of 87 local beneficiaries had been identified to directly benefit from the project. While a further 92 found temporary employment during the first phase of planting and construction, it has the potential of creating many more full time jobs when fully operational.

Sydwell Mashiloane who is a benefactor of the project through employment, called the dairy farm the lifeblood of many in the community. He referred to his colleagues on the farm as part of his family as he said the farm had brought with it muchneeded change. “Vrede Dairy is a firstclass primary agricultural experience, so without Vrede Dairy I believe the community is going to be affected as a community and not only as employees,” Mashiloane said.

The benefits of having an operation such as the farm hasn’t touched the lives of all and some community members feel that it hasn’t delivered on its potential. David Khumalo, a community member, said that he is proud that the farm has turned out to be so amazing. His only worry is the money made from the farm is taxable and they will be taxed as the farm is running under their names. “As for me, I would want the investigation to make sure that at least we get some of the money to live on because we have children to send to school and college and some have even deviated from their career paths just for them to at least get bursaries to help them further their studies,” Khumalo said.

Mountain View in Harrismith gets much of the milk produced by the farm. Willie Basson, a service provider, said the only problem once faced by the farm was the lack of water. “You can see for yourself, the cows, tractors and equipment, it’s fine now. I drove in bales of feed and I expanded the dam,” he said. With production reaching 5000 litres of milk in a minimum two-day cycle, about 200 of the 500 cows are classified as actively milking, by farm manager Petro Gumbi. “This place feeds so many people, so much activity takes place on the farm,” he said.