The producer, the princess and the politician – a South African fairy tale

Zanele Tsambo, left, and Jane Alexander during an emerging farmer’s day at the Sernick Group farm in Edenville. PHOTO: SABRINA DEAN

Picture a tribal princess. Beautiful. Immaculate.
Not the person you’d expect to see taking notes at an emerging farmer’s day.
However, she was one of more than 250 emerging farmers at a farmer’s day presented by the Sernick Group on its massive farm just outside Edenville in the Free State on Friday 27 January.
Two of the young ladies present at the event were Zanele Tsambo and Jane Alexander, who is actually a princess of the Bonogeng tribe from North West. The duo, who looked like they could be en route to Sandton City for a shopping adventure, say it is time to break perceptions around farming.
“No one wants to touch farming. They think it’s too much hard work, too dirty… But both of us had farming experience from our grandparents, so it’s about doing it for ourselves now,” says Tsambo.
Alexander adds that farming is a business. “You have to be able to market yourself and at the end of the day it’s all about hard work.”
The emerging farmer’s day is meanwhile aimed at upliftment and development of emerging and smallholder farmers.
Chairperson of the Sernick Group, Nick Serfontein, says there are commercial farmers out there who see the struggles endured by emerging farmers and are trying to do something to help.
“We see it, we feel for them.”
He says one of the biggest problems is support. “Some of them have access to land but don’t have access to finance. They don’t have infrastructure, they don’t have breeding stock.”
The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mortimer Mannya, was also in attendance. He told Voice he is very impressed with what he saw.
“I am greatly impressed by the partnership that I see between the established commercial sector and the smallholder farmers to enable the smallholder farmers to access the knowledge they need to be successful in production.”
He says it is critically important for all roleplayers, including government and commercial farmers, to work together towards smallholder development. – Sabrina Dean