BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
South Africa

BBC Homepage

Education Scotland

South Africa
Social and economic Issues


About the site


Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Serving South Africa's population since 1994
29 October 2014

"Willing buyer, willing seller" allows labourers to become farmers

The sun is only just rising as Ahkona Qaba steps out of his house and surveys the fields, dotted with sheep that make up his farm. Already his son, Sibabalo, is driving the cattle to pasture. There is a long day ahead, and a lot of work, but Ahkona is a happy man.

Everything his family needs

Ahkona is a fit, wiry, 72 year-old. Just over a year ago he took possession of his own farm. For the previous fifty years he worked as a labourer on the very land he now owns.

His new farm has 50 cattle and 120 sheep. He also keeps pigs, chickens and geese and grows mealies (maize), peas, spinach, pumpkin and cabbage. His farm provides him with everything his large extended family of four adult children and ten grandchildren need.

The milk they drink, the meat and vegetables they eat; all come from his farm. He sells surplus produce to the local store and is now gradually extending his range of customers.

Ahkona's old employer, Frikky van Rooyen, had owned the farm for thirty years before deciding to sell up and retire. He chose to sell only to his farm workers. After discussions with the Land Claims Commission he divided his farm into lots and rented it to his workers for three years.

Each year he spent a month visiting the farm, advising and supporting the workers. Then he sold his farm for two million rand (£200,000) and retired to Pretoria, where his grandchildren live. The sale price included a donation of all the equipment, his tractors and a pump and dam.

Financing the purchase

Ahkona's farm cost 100,000 rand (£10,000). Although poor, Ahkona had saved 5,000 rand. As a result, he qualified for a grant of 50,000 rand from the Department of Land Affairs, which he doesn't have to pay back.

The other 45,000 rand came from a land reform credit company, financed by the Department of Land Affairs, a private finance company and the European Union. This loan will be repaid from the profits he makes selling his produce.

He was given free training in business management by advisers from the provincial Government of the Eastern Cape. This included helping him draw up a business plan for his new farm.

Dreams can come true

"My life is better now" Ahkona tells me as he saddles his horse for another day's work on his land. "It has always been my dream to own my own farm. When I was a boy we grew everything. There was no such thing as money. It's different now but once more I am growing my own sweet potatoes and beans, grazing my own sheep and cattle. If we are diligent we will not grow hungry.

I love farming," he says. "It is a good life."

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy