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It is with great sadness that we read about 45 vultures being poisoned this week, ironically the week after International Vulture Awareness Day. That it happened in neighbouring Mozambique is immaterial. The sun shines, rivers run and vultures fly as they have for centuries: nature does not recognise the compromise of the geo-political boundaries that we have drawn.

 

The latest annual Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline Agricultural Outlook has been released.

The annual Outlook is a project among several role players, primarily driven by the University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch and the Department of Agriculture in the Western Cape. It is at pains to stress that the Outlook is not a prediction, merely a look at what is possible should various factors remain constant.


The steps taken by EarthRise Trust in purchasing Rustler’s Valley and setting in motion what has happened since is a conversation on its own. Co-operatives have long been punted by governments worldwide as the vehicle to get the wheels of development turning. Our chapter on co-operatives begins: "Co-operatives are not only for the poor, but of all the different types of business organisations, co-operatives reach down most to the low income groups". And "The main feature of co-operatives is that they help people to help themselves".

 

Naledi Village Farmers’ Co-operative will face the challenges of all co-operatives because it is a collection of human beings: how to motivate and keep all members motivated and giving their best? How to ensure quality control (in preparing rooms at the lodge, for example)? That they are doing it for themselves will be a reason for many, but not all. Naledi Village Farmers’ Co-operative carries the hopes of the whole village. It holds the potential too of being an example to communities everywhere.

 
 

The facilities at EarthRise Mountain Lodge are comfortable, and conducive to conversation. Indeed, several happened during our stay.

 
It was Gino’s idea that we meet a neighbouring commercial farmer or two; see what they had to say about developments at Rustler’s Valley. We had met Ray Strydom briefly the day before and so I jumped at the second name offered – Christian Findlay. 
 
The road leading past EarthRise Mountain Lodge to Franshoek, Christian Findlay's farm.
 
 

Generally Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) has a low profile in the country, which makes the “Indigenous medicinal plants” chapter quite a task every time we update the Agri Handbook! Imagine our delight to find out that Byron Maclean and Soozi van der Linde are medicinal plants experts!

 

Idealism without practical considerations is wearying, but these two individuals impress very quickly, and establish a sense that they know what they are talking about. They have big plans for the area, their contribution to the co-operative, but also supply the little strokes to build the case for what they are doing.