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Exxaro gains momentum in agricultural empowerment efforts

Exxaro Resources- and FarmSol-assisted grain farmer David Lesesa

Exxaro Resources- and FarmSol-assisted grain farmer David Lesesa

2nd June 2023

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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Agricultural services company FarmSol Holdings says collaboration between the agricultural and mining sectors can bring about significant change and development for emerging farmers.

FarmSol and diversified miner Exxaro Resources have been driving positive development impact on mining land, with Exxaro looking to partner with more companies to drive agricultural success stories.

One such success is farmer David Lesesa, who struggled for years to acquire land for his own grain farming operation, but managed to join two other farmers on 2 282 ha of land through separate lease agreements with Exxaro at its Strathrae properties, in Mpumalanga, which are part of the old Strathrae colliery.

With Lesesa having been allocated just over 1 300 ha, of which 1 100 ha are arable to plant grains such as maize and soybeans, he managed to establish his business, LSTL Trading Enterprises.

However, because the land did not come with any financing, LSTL had difficulty in securing production loans, partly owing to Lesesa not having collateral or asset security.

Lesesa planted his first 50 ha of maize in 2017 using savings, but the crop failed to meet his expectations. In 2019, he was introduced to FarmSol Holdings, which extended meaningful support to LSTL by providing Lesesa with unsecured funding.

As an implementing partner for South African Breweries, FarmSol can offer production loans, market access and mentorship for farmers.

With FarmSol’s involvement, LSTL has grown from producing 5 t/ha, on 50 ha, for yearly revenue of R400 000, to maximum production covering 1 100 ha for revenue of R8-million and a yield of 9 t/ha.

LTSL currently grows 700 ha of maize and soybeans for FarmSol, while the balance of crops is grown for open markets.

Lesesa says meeting FarmSol and Exxaro changed his life for the better, and that the partnership between the two companies enabled him to become a commercial farmer.

LTSL continues to receive support in the form of funding, mentorship, mechanisation and access to markets. His products are being used by companies such as SAB and Siqalo Foods in the production of beer and household food brands such as Rama, Stork Margarine and Rondo.

FarmSol MD Aron Kole comments that agriculture and mining are often seen as two industries on opposite sides of sustainable development; however, its collaboration with Exxaro has shown that the gap between smallholder and commercial farming can be bridged.

Exxaro legal asset and property manager Igna Dougal notes that securing land is most often the biggest challenge for emerging farmers, not only to have the land itself but to secure further funding and opportunities.

Dougal says Exxaro is committed to creating a legacy that is different from the norm in the mining industry. She adds that the company actively invests in sustainable land uses, such as agriculture, to empower communities and leave a positive legacy.

Exxaro is looking to ensure more of these success stories and is in discussions with other potential partners to make more opportunities available to farmers.

To date, FarmSol has unlocked about R800-million in production loan funding to farmers across the country, spanning 60 000 ha of maize, barley, soya beans, oats, canola, groundnuts, wheat and sunflowers.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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