The Impact of finance availability on agriculture in Sherwood Block and surrounding Midlands area

Thu Aug 08, 2019

One of the major challenges currently faced in the agriculture industry is access to finance without fixed assets in town as collateral. As Sherwood Park Estate (PVT) Ltd not only are we committed to the development and progression of our core business, but within that, we also have a huge sense of commitment to the community and our surrounding province. We specialise in row cropping to feed our great nation, as well as and just as importantly, seed production to secure the future production of good quality crops such as maize and wheat and furthermore growing export crops such as paprika, bringing much needed foreign currency back into our country. Together with African Century Leasing Company as our core financier in capital development finance, we have been able to achieve a few of these goals. Although we can only source our crop finance through other rather expensive finance houses, the fact that we can secure development capital finance from African Century goes a long way towards allowing us to do what we do best.

We have management capabilities, land and water resources to grow over 1,000ha of cropping that would ultimately benefit hundreds of families in the Midlands area and the assistance we have received from African Century has helped us start working towards this. SO far we have managed to successfully set up and run more than 4 Rehabilitation projects around the Kwekwe area benefiting more than 20 small scale farmers covering over 200 hectares injecting in excess of $300,000.00 into such projects over the past 5yrs.

Although we have only been able to utilise the finance provided by African Century for capital development, it has freed up some finances for working capital allowing us to carry out such projects.

With help from African Century we have now ventured back into Paprika production of which the last crop we grew was in 2011, ending a more than 10yr run. We hope for this to be the future of our business and have great plans as we have a secure market and offtake. This has allowed us to increase the average monthly income for our contract staff from a mere $65/month to over $90/month, some as high as $120/month. We have also progressed from employing an average contract workforce of 30 staff to over 80 staff. In other areas of our business such as Seed maize production we employ over 175 staff at peak and provide and average monthly earning of $78/month, some as high as $105/month from a mere $65/month as is the stipulated minimum wage for contract staff. The roll over effect this has had in our community has been huge. We have noticed a major lift in moral as well as receiving letters of thanks from various schools in the area as they have noticed an increase in timely school fee payments and attendance of pupils by more than 30%. To us this is a great measure of success as we believe if we can raise the bar for education and increase the number of children that can be educated, we are ultimately growing our nation and ensuring a better and more successful future.

African century has provided us with finance allowing us to purchase new tractors and equipment as well as irrigation infrastructure that in turn have made it possible for the following to take place

•Increase in productivity
•Expansion of business
•Implementation of small scale projects covering over 200ha
•The injection of more than $300,000 into the Kwekwe area over the past 5yrs for development projects.
•The creation of more than 250 jobs
•An improvement in the lifestyle of uneducated people.
•Transferal of skills in various farming practices
•A general increase in the standard of living in the surrounding rural areas.
•Improvement in school attendance and ultimately in the education of our future generations

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