Laastedrif an example of transformation in farming

Chris Tromp is having his blood pressure checked by sister Susan Rabe. (Supplied)
Chris Tromp is having his blood pressure checked by sister Susan Rabe. (Supplied)

Ceres - Rossouw Cillé of Laastedrif in Ceres was honoured as National Farmer of the Year in 2013 for his agricultural achievements.

This Tru-Cape company director and grower of Tru-Cape apples and pears, is also well known in the grower community as one of the industry leaders when it comes to transformation.

In 2003 60% of the ownership of Morceaux farm, a 93 hectare apple and pear farm adjacent to Ceres and part of the Laastedrif business, was transferred to a group of farm workers. By growing and diversifying their farming and business activities, Laastedrif has managed to guarantee financial stability and sustainability.

In addition to several conservation efforts, all farming activities are run according to best industry practice guidelines for natural resource management.

Staff have the opportunity to benefit from training courses to broaden their skills sets; there are schools and crèches for children along with an on-farm clinic with a full-time trained nurse; and a library with a full time librarian.

“We take the wellbeing of our people very seriously”, says Cillé, “and have partnered with organisations such as Patmos to provide spiritual counselling and support to our staff. We’ve also increased the basket of products we grow at Laastedrif with the goal of providing year-long work for seasonal workers. We do what we can to support the social interests of our staff by providing sports uniforms and free transport to matches.”

Laastedrif also changed the way they pay seasonal workers by offering productivity-based incentives. The remuneration and bonus structure provides employees with the opportunity to earn up to 20% more than their normal day-wage, which is based on individual effectiveness and productivity incentives.

The employer also provides housing and related benefits to employees as well as electricity at 30% less than normal municipal rates.

Tru-Cape’s managing director Roelf Pienaar says having a progressive grower such as Cillé on the board is not only valuable because of the top farming experience he brings, but as a reminder of the role that growers can play in improving the quality of life for all South Africans.

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