Healthy relationships with all our stakeholders are an integral part of Natuurboerdery®. Learning from nature that all forms of antagonism (e.g. competition and exploitation) are expensive and to be avoided, we make a conscious effort to build positive symbiotic relationships with all people we deal with.
Probably the greatest difference between industrial farming and Natuurboerdery® is the change in attitude towards people. The van Zyl family values gave ZZ2 a head start of decades over the now prevalent business drive towards a triple bottom line approach (people, planet, profit), as e.g. expressed in the King Reports. This is particularly evident in the respect which is and was maintained towards the labour force.
All Van Zyl managers in ZZ2 have been fluent in several African languages for generations. The open living system approach entails orientation towards others, not the self. It also entails horizontal management, not top down.
In the formative years of Natuurboerdery®, we had the privilege of hosting the world famous Dutch philosopher Jan-Hendrik van den Berg, who formulated a philosophy (Metabletics) to counter closed system thinking, and who strongly enhanced our attitudes towards all our stakeholders (workforce, suppliers, community, authorities, shareholders, agents, fellow farmers and above all our customers.
Our workforce, already 3000 strong in 1984, has grown to 10 000, without ever laying off employees, despite economically difficult times and while upgrading our operations through best technology and mechanisation.
A disproportionate investment in employee satisfaction is made through housing, clinics, child care, transport, social security funds and remuneration, which always exceeds the official minimum requirements.
Most importantly, personal interest, mutual respect and affirmation and genuine equal opportunities make ZZ2 a workplace of first choice in our rural communities.
An important factor in our workforce’s happiness is the security and safety provided by our own highly trained PSIRA-registered security force.
The protection of these 300 officers has kept crime (per capita) in ZZ2 well below 1% of provincial averages.
Surrounding communities benefit from the protection of ZZ2, and most of all, from the job opportunities and training facilities ZZ2 provides.
Currently we are also involved in several joint projects to help neighbouring communities to establish viable farming enterprises on resituated land. Always on the lookout to help neighbouring communities we provide various support services.
ZZ2 is keen on allegiances which can benefit both parties. We gave up our own tomato nursery in 2006 in favour of a cooperation with Hishtil Nurseries, an Israel-based and highly competent operation.
Our date farming operation in Namibia is done in partnership with a consortium of owners, and we share our new cherry developments with the de Wet and Rugani families. Similarly, the new almond enterprise in the Western Cape, involves a group of collaborating farmers in 2016.
A joint venture with CAP/MTO to convert forestry to avocados is in progress. We actively endeavour to be good citizens of the authorities, not only by strict obedience to the laws but by maintaining actively helpful relations with the police, ESCOM, road agencies and local authorities – while emphatically staying out of party politics.
Our associations with suppliers are professional, and favour local and upcoming suppliers wherever possible; and so are our downstream trade relations (see below). The incorruptible professional trade relations we maintain have a radiating effect which reaches well beyond our own trade.
In a super system where the fish obviously rots from the head, we believe the rot can be stopped by enough subsystems which refuse to rot.