Whernit Dirks pulled off what many believed to be impossible. The man went from working on a farm in Piketberg to owning his very own. Today, he farms wheat, barley, oats, rooibos and a flock of 900 Meatmasters on 1 700ha.
Whernit Dirks always knew he wanted to pursue a career in agriculture as he was born and bred on a farm. Speaking to Farmer's Weekly, Dirks said:
“Even my school essays had always been about agricultural topics"
In 2006, he joined the workforce of Windheuwel, near Piketberg in the Western Cape, to become the third generation of his family to till the soil on the farm. That same year, the owner of Windheuwel, Stephanus Richter, gave three of his workers the opportunity to pick three half-breed ewes to rear.
When this initiative proved a success, Richter made 100ha of his most arable land available at R1/ ha per year, as well as 100 sheep, to the workers of Windheuwel. When Richter asked who wanted to make use of this opportunity, Dirks and his uncle, Leonard Davis, immediately took the opportunity.
After witnessing their dedication and the success, Richter gave them another 600ha, on the condition they involved more people.
“In 2009 my father, Galant Toontjies, and grandfather, Daantjie Romburg, joined, and that’s when we started Genadeshoop Boerdery"
Today, they rent approximately 1 200ha of which 310ha are planted to wheat, 200ha to barley and 250ha to oats. The remaining land is used to run 900 Meatmaster sheep.
“We also have 458ha of our own land in the Sandveld that we acquired through a Land Bank loan in 2013. On this farm, we started farming rooibos in 2018.”
The drought of the past three years was a major challenge for Dirks and his team.
“After the drought we’re still struggling. Everyone works together to make ends meet. Luckily, we have an excellent support network that helps us during tough times.”
According to Dirks, good record-keeping, disciplined budget adherence and a reasonable business plan are key to being successful.
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