Community private partnership – Seven Star Coop

In the 1970s, a number of irrigation schemes were established in the former homeland of the Ciskei, one of which was the Keiskamma Irrigation Scheme in an area historically used for dairy farming. Plots were demarcated and people were asked to come and farm. These farmers received a plot of approximately 12ha and 12 cows. Under the guidance of the government, these farmers managed to earn a small living. They were organised in a trust, consisting of seven production units, which supplied the central dairy, owned by the Ciskei government, from which the milk was sold. The scheme relied heavily on government funding for its operation.

With the end of Apartheid and new policies being implemented, subsidies for the Keiskammahoek Dairy Scheme were abolished and the irrigation scheme fell into disrepair. By 2003 the several communities were encouraged by the provincial Department of Agriculture to organise themselves into cooperatives along the lines of the old production units. These primary cooperatives together formed the Seven Stars 1 Central Agricultural Coop covering the full dairy scheme. The idea was that on a larger scale it would be easier for the farmers to become profitable. However, after a number of years they still struggled. They were then advised to find a partner to assist them in the dairy farming activities.

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