NEWS
27/03/2018 16:04 SAST | Updated 27/03/2018 16:15 SAST

Free State Farmer Gives Workers Land

Eddie Prinsloo has given seven of his farmworkers the opportunity to acquire land and start commercial farming.

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Smithfield farmer Eddie Prinsloo has paid it forward by finding a way for his farmworkers to acquire land.

Two years ago, he sold his farm to the government on two conditions. The first was that it be divided between his farmworkers, who would in this way be able to start their own farms.

"In 1994, I wanted to give them [farmworkers] one of my farms, but it didn't work. They do all the work but they do not benefit. I wanted them to benefit from the profits," he told HuffPost on Tuesday.

"I offered my farm to the government and they bought it from me, but there were two conditions. I wanted to do it for my workers, my people, not strangers," he said.

Prinsloo says his farmworkers are now waiting to receive their title deeds, which will confirm their ownership of a piece of the 1,500 hectares of land.

The father of three says he is willing to assist them to run what will one day be successful farms.

"At this stage they can use my implements, mowers, tractors, bakkies, over the first five years. There are sheep that we already have on the farm," he said.

"The farmworkers already do the bulk of the work and with training they will be able to ace farming, said Prinsloo.

"It is not true that black farmers cannot farm. They are the best farmers, but we have to educate them and teach them how to deal with management.

"They need to be taught how to plan, that is what we white farmers have to teach them. Both black and white farmers are important for food security. Let us not underestimate anyone," he said.

According to the cattle farmer, it is advisable to study agriculture to excel in farming, but practical experience is equally as important.

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Prinsloo started farming in 1975, when he inherited a farm from his father, and went on to buy four more.

Prinsloo employed Tshidiso Sphaphathe in 1988. Little did he know that he would one day run his own small-scale farm.

"I feel so happy. A lot of people will not do what Eddie is doing for us. Many white people won't help with anything. My family is very happy, they really did not expect Eddie to help me like this," Sphaphathe said.

He is one of seven employees who ensure that Prinsloo's cows are cared for at a high standard.

"I will work with cows, I think that it is my talent and Eddie has taught me all about it."

He wants some of his family to consider farming as a career.

"I'm hoping my nephews could have a interest in farming, because I want them to reap the benefits. Having a bright future is not all about working in big cities."

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Prinsloo says many other farmers have approached him to enquire about taking the same route he has, but processes are generally slow where land is concerned.

"We had a farmers' day here, all the farmers are willing to do that but they do not want to wait for two years. Mine took too long ... Every day farmers call me about my project," he said.

He urges government to work with Land Bank to make land more accessible for black people.

"In the old regime they had subsidy, the old government sponsored Land Bank and they gave farmers low interest rates," he explained.

The 63-year-old is close to retirement and wants his son, Eduard, to run the family business. He studied an agricultural course at North-West University and has been actively involved in farm work for the past two years.