The Future of Farming is in Safe Hands with Thomas “Tommy” Skietekat

“A man cannot just wake up and say, ‘today I am going to farm.’ It must be in your blood, in your veins,” says Thomas “Tommy” Skietekat, a grain farmer for For Farmer South on the importance of having passion as a farmer. “I was born to farm, I like it,” he continues.

Tommy is one of many South African men who are on the frontlines of food production in this country. Most know that the food we devour every day is the result of thousands of committed farm workers, but have you ever thought what the food production process looks like? Perhaps not? 

Most small-scale farmers like Tommy start out very small. They have a couple of acres of land and a few crops. Soon they realise that bigger land, and more man-power, are needed to help them become part of the greater supply chain.

To that end, the Tiger Brands Agriculture Aggregator model has been instrumental in enabling small-scale farmers to form part of their supply chain, thereby transforming the local agricultural sector. 

Tiger Brands, one of Africa’s largest food manufacturers, is the first to admit that the high tonnage delivery requirements has, in the past, made it difficult for small-scale farmers to form part of their supply chain.

“Farming is hard work and the input costs are what kill us. You must have money to plant,” reiterates Tommy on the struggles of being a farmer. Luckily, for Tommy and his team, Tiger Brands came in and provided the input costs, the fertilizer and the seeds. The aggregator models steams up black small-scale farmers into collectives so they are able to meet the capacity and the quality requirements of Tiger Brands. For Farmers is a result of that model and they are a combination of wheat and oat farmers from the Western Cape.

Additionally, the company provides them with agrarian and agricultural support, business development support and input finance to ensure their commercial success. “I am going to do the harvesting. Tiger Brands will do the marketing,” says Tommy, echoing the team spirit that is at the core of this partnership. Through the Tiger Brands Agriculture Aggregator model, Tommy is not only doing the work he loves, but also ensuring economic development and food security for all South Africans.

With each sip you take, can you even begin to imagine that the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is a provider of comprehensive services for 600,000 small tea farmers which represents over 60% of the countries total tea production and 13% of the global tea supply? Me too. Its services span across the entire tea processing chain including, transportation, warehousing, processing, marketing, financing and agri-extension to better educate farmers and improve the farming process.

KTDA pays farmers at various stages pre and post final sale. Given the volume of farmers and money being moved on a frequent basis, KTDA needed to have efficient technologies in place to meet expectations, simplify the process and keep up with their growing business. The livelihood of these farmers depends on getting regularly paid for tea supplied – and in the past, this exchange had been a tedious and laborious challenge.

With its global reach, IT capabilities and expertise in working with a myriad of local banks and currencies, Citi developed a system that seamlessly enables KTDA to pay 600,000 farmers quickly, reliably and securely, with an audit trail that ensures transparency. Citi’s new Mass Pay module enables KTDA to pay farmers the same day the funds are received.

Since inception and the introduction of this new system, the farmers have been able to depend on reliable and secure payments for their crops. Not only are they able to better manage their lives, they’re able to support their families, secure their futures without the worry of late payments.

So, just as you enjoy the warmth of your favourite tea in the comfort of your home we can safely say that tea farmers in Kenya are warm and fuzzy inside too because: it’s not just a cup of tea.