Driven by the need to upskill smallscale Eastern Cape farmers and ensure food security, a Kei Mouth cattle farming couple will be hosting an emerging farmer day at their farm next week.
Miles and Danelda Dicke, who breed Brahman cows and also farm cattle commercially, have been organising free “emerging farmer days” since 2003 and have attracted farmers from as far afield as Matatiele, Ngcobo, Port Elizabeth and many rural areas in between.
“We were inspired by my father-in-law Theo Dicke, who farms cattle in Limpopo, and started running emerging farmer days in 1999 because he saw a need to train people who benefited from land claims,” said Danelda.
“They were good subsistence farmers, but had to learn how to farm commercially on a bigger scale, so that they were not only feeding their families, but the wider community as well.”
She said some of the farmers who supported the annual event at Idlewild Farm owned substantial herds and did not fit under the banner of ‘emerging’ farmers, but nevertheless appreciated practical advice from experts in the field.
“There is such a thirst for knowledge from the rural farming community. Some have a couple of sheep and a cow or two and would like to grow their operation, but their cows are not producing or their calves are not surviving.
“We connect them with industry leaders and role players such as auctioneer Tony Burger, who presents a talk on how auctions work and the meaning of auction jargon so that they are not overwhelmed when they want to bid.”
Danelda said the day would consist of six short lectures on topics such as cattle feeding, the importance of budgeting in farming, record keeping and cattle weighing, veterinary and health aspects of cattle farming, and data collection of informal markets.
“Some farmers don’t know that they can’t buy cows inland and take them to the coast because they will die.
“They get practical advice about dipping, deworming, feeding and farming during the drought.
“Importantly, we make sure the speakers represent companies we would do business with ourselves and then everyone has lunch and networks.”
A farmer who attended emerging farmers days regularly since 2003, WHEN he had just three cows, was now the co-owner of a large herd.
“His cows were not calving and he was advised they were getting a sexually transmitted disease from a bull, so he got together with members of his community and they fenced off their cows and received a bull from the government, and they now have 150 cows.
“It’s such a nice success story and he always says he learns so much here.”
Danelda said the events could attract as many as 600 farmers at a time.
“We collect information for Statistics SA to help them determine the amount of stock being farmed in rural areas and they are partial funders of the day, so this is a win-win situation for everyone.
“If as farmers we can help the guy next door to grow their farming enterprise to something that’s commercially viable, then we benefit agriculture as a whole.
“If South Africa produces its own food it’s good for the country and the person in the street.”
lAnyone interested in attending the free Emerging Farmers Day at Idlewild Farm, Kei Mouth, at 9am on Wednesday, August 16, may phone Miles Dicke at 084-589-3174. — firstname.lastname@example.org