Daniel Pieters grew up in a little village in Elim, Western Cape, with dreams of becoming a farmer. The 34-year-old father of four now lives in Napier – a village near Caledon – 14km from Jafters Krantz, the farm he has shares in and works on too, thanks to the Agri Dwala BEE farming project.
His mentor, Mr Jacobus “Kosie” van Zyl, and Piet Blom started the Agri Dwala programme that served as a beacon of hope, aiming to enrich the community. They empowered locals interested in farming, and assisted with land and skills development.
Daniel met “Oom Kosie” through Kosie’s wife, Daniel’s Afrikaans teacher at school. As fate would have it, she said he could study on the farm while doing matric. Daniel loved how peaceful it was on the farm and his teacher knew about his interest in farming.
“My interest in farming started with my father, working in the garden – I can’t believe I get to be a farmer today,” Daniel says.
After matriculating from Hoërskool Napier in 2004, he adds, “I got a bursary and attended Boland College, got my N4, N5 and N6 national farming diploma” – but the real learning took place on the land. Daniel started working on the farm in 2006. “I was 21 years old, just after completing college. I came back to repay Oom Kosie and pay back my ‘skuld’,” Daniel says with a laugh.
Agri Dwala assisted members and bought land in 2008 with the help of the department of land affairs – and bought another farm, Karsrivier, in 2010. The first farm, Jafters Krantz, is a 260-hectare farm producing wheat, barley and canola– along with livestock that includes 80 oxen, 100 lambs and 700 sheep.
Daniel maintains the farm along with Marius Engel, who lives on the farm. There are eight people who work on the farm – six shareholders and two permanent workers. Every day is hard work. If they are not planting, watering or harvesting, there’s fixing of machinery, but Daniel puts everything into what he does.
“You must be prepared to learn, you’re here to farm – you have to be a worker on the farm and can’t act like a boss, it’s all about the end goal,” Daniels says. “It is not easy being a commercial farmer, you have to be a good planner, you need excellent time management, but I enjoy it.”
They used to hire but now they are able to buy their own machinery. “I love machinery and working with technology. Things like GPS technology changed farming and makes things easier.”
And because the assistance from Agri Dwala made such a big difference in their lives, Daniel and the other shareholders enjoy giving back to the community.
At the end of the year the 19 shareholders give a 10th of their earnings to a local organisation of their choice. About the future, Daniel says, “My dream is to get more land, we are producing well, we just need more finances and space.”
Check out the video below for more on Daniel’s journey:
Win with DRUM and Nation in Conversation