Xolile Peter Lamani, also known as Piet, is a father of three from Humansdorp, a small town in the Eastern Cape. He lives 10km from his farm, Reebok Rant Dairy.
The 44-year-old started farming when he was 18 years old and grew up learning from his mother and father who worked on a farm. His dreams were ignited when the farmer he worked for helped him form the Workers Trust – an organisation that sought to help other farmers acquire their own farms. They were able to get a grant from the government through the department of rural development and land reform and made a loan from Nedbank to buy the farm for R8 million. Today they farm on their own land.
Piet is the chairperson of the Workers Trust that started with 74 members, but today it consists of 54 members. When the organisation started they had 51% white members and 49% black members, but today Piet is proud black farmers own 60% of the business.
Together they started on Reebok Rant in 2006 as a beef cattle farm, but quickly diversified and started a dairy farm – today they have two dairies. “When we started they (white farmers) provided us with machinery and cattle and we provided the land.” Nearly 13 years later, Piet works closely with farm manager Justin Muller and assistant manager Lwazi Booi.
They have 1 050 milk cows – Jersey and Friesland (Holstein-Friesian) cows and produce 19 411 litres of milk a day, that goes to the Woodlands Dairy in Humansdorp. Lwazi, who is also a member of the Workers Trust, says, “Before I worked here I knew nothing about farming.
“I was told I was going to milk cows. Now I am really excited about working here on Reebok Rant.”
Justin runs the day-to-day duties on the farm and they work together to help streamline production. “I am happy how Justin runs things, he works very hard,” Piet says.
Life on the farm does not come without its challenges. Drought impacts them greatly. “It’s worse at Reebok Rant because we have no dams here and rely heavily on rainfall,” Piet says.
“We aim to ask the government to help get a permit to build a dam in Reebok Rant.”
Overall, Piet feels very strongly about farming and working with white farmers. “I think it is very important to work with white farmers because they know the way very well. “There is no such thing that white people can’t work hand in hand with black people. We are proof of that.”
On what farming taught him about himself and the world around him, Piet says: “Farming puts food on the table for my family, helps provide community support to schools (their upcoming project) and provides milk for the natural world.”
Piet hopes to start another farm to help other farmers, the way he was helped, to boost job creation.
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