20 May 2012


Andre Botha is president of Congo Agriculture, which together with AgriSA, has been in negotiations with the Congolese government since its invitation to South African farmers to bring their expertise to the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). Thirty-nine South African farmers have already moved there. The state made 85000ha of farmland available to the farmers, of whom 13 have moved to the country on a semi-permanent basis. Thirteen others commute between South Africa and the Congo every two weeks. Neil Karg, whose wife and housekeeper were murdered on his dairy farm in KwaZulu-Natal in 2010, and former Angolan prisoner-of-war Wynand du Toit, are part of the farmers community.  The first 13 farmers arrived in the village of Malolo just before Christmas last year. They cleared 1200ha for maize, worked around the clock in shifts and within a few months they produced a crop and sold it to the government for R2400 a ton. They also planted 80ha of soya.

They have also improved the locals' lives. By fixing old pipes and pumps they gave the locals access to tap water for the first time. The South Africans employ 200 people on the farm. The local baker now sells 200 loaves every day and has employed the local chief, his wife and son to help. Before the farmers arrived, the local teenage boys would collect cellphones with flat batteries from their village in Malolo, and run 27km to Makabana, the nearest village with electricity. There they would have the phones charged and run back to Malolo in the evening. The farmers laid an electric line to an old woman's house, setting up a cellphone charging bank with about 40 plugs at which the local community can charge their cellphones.