If you plant an apple or pear tree today, you might have to wait up to five years before you see the first fruit and up to seven years before the tree is in full production. This means that money must be invested in land, labour, water and pesticides for many years before break-even point and even longer for profit. Later, fruit packing and storage needs to be added to the budget, but agriculture is ons of the few industries that can be left to future generations.
According to Agnes Lekhori, Administration Clerk at Bellcro – a joint-venture apple and pear farm owned by the workers at Bellvue Farm, the government and Crookes Brothers Limited (CBL), agriculture is something you do today for tomorrow and for future generations.
“Bellcro is a recent business entity in the Villiersdorp valley in a five-year strategic partnership with CBL. The land was purchased by the government and the workers at Bellvue Farm have become the lease holders. Apples and pears from CBL farms are marketed by Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears. I am very optimistic about the future of agriculture in South Africa. It is one of the few industries that can employ unskilled and even illiterate people. We have people on the farm who cannot read or write but know exactly how to treat a tree to produce the best fruit”, she says adding: “this is one industry where not having the skill to write, for example, does not also mean a person doesn’t have many other essential skills.”
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