Josua du Toit photographed on the Ceres farm, Ouplaas.
Getting one of the Ceres growers who donated feed to help Merweville farmers near Koup in the Tankwa Karoo, towards Sutherland, to take credit for it is even more rare than rain in this arid and mountainous area. As annual rainfall seldom exceeds 150 millimetres, the growers here, mostly raising sheep and game meat, have to rely on wind pumps for ground water. As part of a bigger drought which impacted the Western Cape, this already dry area has been even drier. So dry, in fact, that the Karoo bush, typically sufficient to maintain livestock, does not contain enough nutrition to feed them.
“I know that fellow Tru-Cape growers donated hay feed and transport costs”, says Josua du Toit, of the farm Ouplaas where he farms with his son, Calla du Toit who is also Tru-Cape’s Procurement Manager. Another grower, who didn’t want to be named, said it was a Ceres-wide initiative and not only Tru-Cape-related growers. To this, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing managing director Roelf Pienaar described as “a beautiful demonstration of industry competitors working together towards a common goal: helping other growers.”
The grain company Senwes made a video of their grain contribution to growers in the nearby Sutherland area which can viewed on their website, but, despite this example, Ceres growers prefer to keep their donation private.
Josua du Toit explains that a number of Ceres growers have farms in the Ceres Karoo which is in the broader vicinity of Merweville and they move their sheep there to graze from May. “Our Karoo farm is 100km away from Ceres but Sutherland is another 130km away”, he explains and adds that the Karoo is expected to provide enough for the animals to eat.
Roelf Pienaar says that early indications are that the worst of the drought may be over and the company and all their growers look forward to further rain.