THE CEO’S 2017 ADDRESSCasidra
For Casidra the 2017 year started on the back of another clean audit, the 27th in a row, and with staff returning from a well-deserved break from work, during December 2016.
The year started with a frantic pace with numerous projects that were supplied with goods and services when suppliers started opening their businesses for the New Year. The holiday soon felt like a memory of long ago as the pace intensified.
The drought that gripped the country but most severely the province, reached disastrous proportions as many farmers and more especially the small and emerging farmers started losing livestock due to shortages of water and feed. A support programme was established by the WCDoA where many black farmers, who met specific criteria, were assisted with emergency feed for their livestock. This programme was keenly assisted by the commercial sector through Agri Western Cape and agribusinesses in the province. The assistance brought much relief and many farmers could save animals that would certainly have succumbed due to the adverse conditions. Towards the end of 2016 a programme by DAFF also supported a few livestock farmers in distress.
With all the assistance, which was gratefully accepted, the drought continues to place a major risk on food security though. The mayor of Cape Town, Ms De Lille, announced that records indicate this to be the worst drought faced by the City of Cape Town in more than 100 years.
While the latest average dam levels in the province is at 32 %, recent rains were experienced in the northern parts of the country especially in the Northern Cape, Lowveld, Highveld and Limpopo areas. The good rains have brought much relief and dams such as the Vaal and Sterkfontein dams have risen to 103% and 88.9% respectively.
The impact of the drought unfortunately has already been experienced with the current crop of vegetables and fruit being harvested, where reports are that yields are lower and fruit sizes smaller compared to previous years. A report by GreenCape also indicates that the recent drought has diminished wheat yields by as much as 22%.
Amidst the challenges faced by the sector, Casidra continues to support the emerging farmers and land reform beneficiaries with infrastructure and production support through its programmes with the WCDoA. The most pursued request is the installation of water infrastructure i.e. the sinking of boreholes. This has inundated the local suppliers of this service and contractors and service providers from other provinces are currently being requested to tender for provision of such services.
Casidra continues to manage the Waaikraal and Amalienstein farms under management agreement from the WCDoA. The Anhalt farm has now entered the final stages of transformation when DRDLR established a CPA which is ultimately tasked to take over the management of the farm. For this reason Casidra, the DRDLR, WCDoA and the CPA has started an arrangement where Casidra is appointed as the operational manager of the farm, while this grouping of stakeholders constitute an Executive Committee that sees to the strategic management matters. The ultimate transfer of the farm is envisaged as June 2018 which marks the conclusion of the 2017/18 harvest.
The key focus for Casidra is currently to train and mentor the identified individuals of the CPA in the tasks they will be required to fulfill.
Casidra takes pride to be able to shortly hand over a viable commercial business to the community which continuously provide as many as 25 permanent and up to 150 seasonal job opportunities.
Other achievements worth mentioning is that the 2015 harvest income was the 2nd highest income ever since Casidra started managing the farm in 1993, the 6 365 crates was a 1.8% increase from the previous year while the yield per hectare in 2015 was 9.5% more than the average for the previous 5 years.
Casidra was appointed as an Implementing Agent by DEA for 2016-2019. The programme funds is envisaged to be released shortly. Casidra is at the same time busy exploring and collaborating with various stakeholders the potential value-adding to the biomass generated in the alien clearing programme.
The Western Cape Schools Job Fund project, in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Education, has been going for eight months, and many processes were streamlined since it started.
Casidra has embarked on a renewed attempt to market its services to municipalities and a few exploratory discussions were held and presentations made to municipalities in the province.
Casidra has been exploring the accreditation as a training service provider with the Seta’s and this initiative, which is showing promise, will directly link with the expressions of the Premier when in her State of the Province address recently stated that “Mastering skills, getting a job, earning a salary, and climbing a career ladder through hard work and life-long learning is the only recipe for sustainable economic liberation for all.“
A challenging but exciting year lies ahead, but as always, Casidra is eager to take it on and contribute as best it can.