By: Tebogo Mokwena
De-Neasha Topkin and her family know exactly what they want, and the manner in which they built La Familia Farming and Projects bears testament to this. Topkin and her husband, Albe, grew up in the Xhariep District in the Free State, and both grew up on farms. When the family secured their land in 2010, it was just a veld. They decided that the best way to utilise it would be through agriculture.
After getting it up and running, they registered the company in 2013. La Familia Farming and Projects farms potatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, chillies, beetroot, carrots and watermelons. They also farm livestock and harvest 16 tons per hectare of maize and eight tons of wheat. Topkin told Vutivi News that they sold grain to local corporations, livestock to abbatoirs and vegetables to local communities.
“We have six employees and four working directors as well as 12 casual labourers on a rotational basis,” she said. The farm was started with their own money and funding from the state. “We received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the Free State’s Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and used our own funding to finance the business.”
Topkin said they turned to the state because they struggled to access funding from financial institutions, which were not keen to provide financing to small-scale farmers. “We require more land, infrastructure, water, tractors and implements, and to solve these challenges requires more money,” she said. “Financial institutions could not assist and they did not even assist with a loan and referred me constantly to the provincial and municipal governments.”
The business has now applied for blended financing from the Department of Agriculture and the Land Bank and the couple hopes the response will be positive. Topkin said that her passion for agriculture fueled her to strive for a successful business. “I enjoy running this business because of how passionate the whole team is,” she said. “With passion comes joy and freedom in a very tough agricultural environment,” Topkin said that the company was now looking at agro-processing and building a plant that would be compliant. Within the next 10 years, their aim is to go commercial.