There is a lot of hype around the subject of food security in South Africa. But what is does that mean? Simply, it is the right to affordable food every day. A lot of people are under the misguided impression that to achieve ‘cheap’ food, you need to pay your workers low wages. But as the success of Greenway carrot farm proves, the answer does not lie in cutbacks but in innovative investment.
In 1965 Greenway Farms were on the verge of bankruptcy. 30% of the turnover was going to pay wages and the company was running at a loss. In an effort to find a better solution – a solution where profits were possible and decent wages – Vito Rugani and Vincent Sequeira packed their bags and set off to Australia to seek mentorship and get exposure to profitable farms with productive, happy workers.
Innovation was the solution
They observed that things were far more efficient in Australia. While it took 40 people to complete a job in South Africa, only 4 people were performing the same task in Australia. At the heart of the problem were the 100-year old farming techniques South Africa was still using. The solution? Common sense and innovation. But the dilemma facing the Greenway owners was how to implement this back on their carrot farm.
Investing in carrots and people
As the farm was operating at a loss, they were forced to sell 40% of the farm off to a silent partner. The money they received was invested in innovative aids, which made their people more productive. They started investing in machines and contrary to popular belief, their labour force did not decrease in size. In fact, they increased their labour force and their wages.
The advantages of mechanisation
Mechanising your business and implementing new machinery does not, contrary to popular belief, make people lose jobs and add to unemployment. It simply makes the labour process more productive. At Greenway carrot farm they call it marrying man and machine. This is where workers are trained to use machines – enabling the farmer to get the best possible productivity from the worker. The proper term for this ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the study of efficiency in working environments and at Greenway carrot form they use the best possible ergonomics to result in maximum efficiency and productivity.
The results speak for themselves
Since implementing effective ergonomics at Greenways carrot farm, wages have increased by over 1000% and job opportunities increased by 5% per annum over the last 15 years. From our humble beginnings 23 years ago, we’ve expanded into Africa’s largest supplier of carrots, supplying over 40% of South Africa’s carrots.
We believe in leaving a legacy and part of it is to pass on our farming knowledge to future generations.