With a successful 15-year track record, the Denou Farming is a stand-out success story. Established in 2003 as a partnership between fifth generation Prince Alfred’s Hamlet growers of the Goosen Family, Denou Farming which owns the land is held by The Den Haag Werknemers Trust (51 per cent) and The Goosen Boerdery Trust, (49 per cent).
Danie Goosen, the most senior member at the meeting of the board of directors, said that the Goosen Family wanted to be part of a positive future in South Africa for agriculture and took up the opportunity provided by the government at the time to establish new farming units. Apples and pears grown by Denou Farming are marketed by Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, South Africa’s largest apple and pear exporter.
Anthony Janse is the production manager and chair of the trust which represents workers on both Ou Stasie and Jagerskraal. He says about 70 hectares of fruit and 35 hectares of vegetables are cultivated in the shared B-BEE Denou Farming business.
Janus Goosen, representing the next Goosen generation, and who is now responsible for finance and packaging, says that they believe in integrity, loyalty, good communication, sound financial planning, improvement of skills and determination as the basis of their success. Cousin JC Goosen handles production together with Anthony Janse.
Anthony Janse explains that there are currently two models designed to redress past inequalities. The one they have embraced is shared ownership in a new farming unit while the other model is 100 per cent ownership by people who have been previously disadvantaged who then have a mentorship agreement with established commercial growers. ‘Our group has benefitted widely from mentorship and skills transference within this Denou business,’ Anthony Janse says, explaining that for many years the business has run profitably for the benefit of the shareholders.
Danie Goosen says one way he knows that shareholders value their stake in the business is that a number of retired beneficiaries have elected to remain active in the Trust. ‘This is a very positive development for me,’ he says, ‘as I know that we are collectively growing and adding value to the business. The commercial side of the farming business supports the B-BEE business and there is a lot of positive cross-pollination between the businesses.’
Anthony Janse says a perception exists that fruit agriculture is a quickly profitable business. ‘Sure there is profit when you produce the right quality, size and variety that the market wants but fruit growing is a long-term investment and most trees only bear fruit after three to five years during which time market demands may have changed,’ Anthony Janse ends.
Janus Goosen agrees that raising capital is challenging and costly and one of the impediments to many a successful venture.
Trustee and director Willie Abrahams says: ‘To be part of such a company has lead to my personal development over the years. It is a good thing when I look back and I can feel comfortable being part of such a transparent and successful business,’ he ends.
Tru-Cape Fruit marketing’s managing director Roelf Pienaar says the increasing number of positive stories about agriculture together with successes such as Denou Trust are very encouraging. ‘Having growers such as Denou Trust contribute fruit and their positive experience how growers and workers together can build strong businesses is the foundation on which long-term food security and successful agriculture in South Africa can be built,’ he concludes.