The latest Fund investment, an olive farm near the Karoo town of Leeu-Gamka in the Western Cape, was concluded in February 2017. The transaction includes an extensive development programme, with 143 hectares of new olive trees to be planted within the first two years of the investment period, adding to the 212 hectares currently planted. Although the olive industry has moved towards the integration of mechanical harvesting to increase the yields achieved across their orchards, manual labour is still regarded as a necessary component of the harvesting process.
There are 50 permanent workers currently employed on the farm, who will benefit from the Fund’s healthcare and education programmes, in addition to improved housing and working conditions. One of these workers is 48 year old father of three Jan Salmon, who has worked on the farm since 2014. Jan was born in Leeu-Gamka and dropped out of school after completing Grade 10 to work as a forklift and tractor driver and mechanic. He is looking forward to the improvements that will result from Fund ownership of the farm.“I can see things are going to happen now. We didn’t have training for our jobs and [this has] started now. We get a better understanding if we train everybody on using chemicals, how to work with waste and how not to pollute the ground.
We are looking into improving the irrigation to be more in line with what the trees need.” “I love to walk through the olive groves. I love olive farming, it has a special meaning for me. Also in my (Christian) belief the olive is very special as its oil has healing power. Every day I am on the farm I feel I am surrounded by a special plant. I love the crisp air in the morning in the olive groves. I feel honoured. “In the mornings all the workers come together at the processing facility and I talk with them together with Frans the farm manager. We start at 6h15 and sometimes pray together and appreciate the life we have.
Frans and I then inform everybody of their specific task and the day begins at 7h30. “I want to do Matric so I can improve my possibilities and would like to climb up in the farming process. I hope in future I can have a higher position in the farm and become a farm manager.” We are fortunate to be able to support workers of the calibre of Jan Salmon, and are looking forward to watching his progress towards achieving his goals.