A BLACK economic empowerment initiative, Sundays River Farming Trust, shared its winning formula at a media briefing yesterday, where it was applauded by the Land Reform and Rural Development Department for aligning itself with the department's goals in creating a sustainable rural community.
Sundays River Farming Trust member and award-winning farmer Buyiswa Ndyenga said the initiative's success had to do with passion and hard work.
Speaking at the briefing in Kirkwood, Ndyenga said the business had reaped numerous benefits for the workers and communities of Willow Tree, Glengrove, Siyathemba and Eendacht farms.
Now 42, Ndyenga started working on the valley's citrus farms at the age of 24 as a seasonal worker and has worked up to the position of assistant manager.
She recently received the Land Reform and Rural Development Department's 2011-12 Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Ndyenga said the secret of the farming business's success lay in people being passionate about their work.
"Even those in high positions need to be hands-on in order to be successful.
"Within five years of the trust's [establishment], beneficiaries have a provident fund, and permanent and seasonal workers get benefits that are better than on any other farm," she said.
"We have installed solar heating panels [to houses], and farmers go to Abet [adult basic education and training] classes and training," she said.
The trust was established in 2007, under the guidance of the Sundays River Citrus Company. With its profits since 2008 and the help of the company, it has purchased land in Addo. While the trust was in charge of pruning and picking, the Sundays River Citrus Company was responsible for packaging, Ndyenga said.
Sundays River Citrus Company managing director Ken Nieuwenhuizen said this was a good example of land reform that had uplifted and empowered people.
"The mutual dependence [between the trust and the company] ... almost guaranteed success," he said.
Department deputy director-general Vusi Mahlangu said this success story was what the department was working towards in terms of skills transfers from commercial farmers and contribution to sustainable rural communities.