The Guard

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Apple farming to boost economy of TMDM

By Emily Setona

Bethlehem – Remmoho Investment in Agriculture’s (RIA) lived up to its motto of ‘collaboration is the new innovation’ when by enjoying a high yield of apples produced by members of the group under the leadership of Pitso Sekhoto.

Sekhoto says that it is not about what government can do for you as an entrepreneur but about you approach government to give them bankable ideas that they can invest in.
He said this at the Apple Harvest Day held on January 25 at Stead Fruit Growers (SFG) farm.

“On our own we were able to plant four hectares from our own pocket, adding to the eight hectares that Kobus already had on his farm. We approached government to help us so we could increase the capacity of our production. We are planting 18 hectares this year so we have 30 hectares.

“We are going to use the land that I can proudly say that the Dihlabeng municipality has promised to give to us to put up a processing plant and the CO2 fridges that will be storing the apples for our farmers,” Sekhoto said while addressing the crowd.
According to farm owner, Kobus Du Preez, it took close to two years for him to agree to work with RIA and it was the patience and persistence of Sekhoto that eventually made him realize this vision and decide to be part of it.

“I saw that Sekhoto is a very driven person who doesn’t take no for an answer, and he doesn’t get disheartened. He just knocks on doors and kicks them open until he gets what he wants.
“That’s how I realized that he is the right person to have as a partner. My farm workers and I planted the four hectares of the apple orchard and Remmoho arranged for the finances,” Du Preez said in an interview with The Guard.

The efforts of Sekhoto have led the government to invest in the vision of Remmoho, according to Remmoho CEO Phuti Kubushi, who said both the government officials and Du Preez did not see their vision at first, but Sekhoto took them to the Western Cape to make them see what they are talking about.

MEC Thabo Meeko from DESTEA next to Pitso Sekhoto from Maluti Packaging.

“The rate of unemployment among our children is very high in this area of the Free State and it is our vision to create jobs for our children with our apple production project. The Western Cape is the primary producer of apples in our country, but they are struggling because they don’t have enough land and adequate of water.

“Our environment and climate allow us to add to what they are doing in the Western Cape because we have plenty of land and water from Lesotho. We want to change the district of Thabo Mofutsanyana so that our apple production project changes the GDP of the Free State after the next five years.” Kubushi said.

The MEC of DARD Saki Mokoena and MEC of DESTEA Thabo Meeko handed over a cheque of R10 million to Remmoho and their partners at the SFG farm.

Among the guests at the event were Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality (TMDM) speaker Thabo Mokoena as well as MMC Sophie Jacobs who was there on behalf of the executive mayor of Dihlabeng local municipality, as well as representatives from Land bank, VKB and Nedbank.