Burgundy Cheese Making Fellowship

Since 2005, Agri-Expo has been the programme leader for this training initiative by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to send students to France for cheese making knowledge as part of the highly successful cooperative agreement between the Burgundy and Western Cape governments. To date 38 junior cheese makers have been sent to Burgundy, mostly from groupings that in the past have been exposed to fewer opportunities, for this practical course which includes modules on marketing and other industry related issues. Numerous individuals who benefited from this programme have since excelled by developing new cheeses, improving existing ones as well as upgrading production methods and plant layouts.


bf-2013In 2013 no less than six young South African cheese makers will benefit from the century old cheese making know-how of the French after being awarded scholarships during the DuPont Qualité Award Ceremony on 24 April at GrandWest. They appear f.l.t.r: Dudley Adolph (Chief Director: Farmer and Support Development, Western Cape Department of Agriculture), Warren Phipson (Kasselshoop Cheese), Kerwick Boonzaaier (Portobello), Karla Steyl (La Montanara), Marika Claasen (Forest Hill), Wiseman Nkamisa (Simonsberg) and Petrus October (Langeberg Cheese) and will spend three weeks in Burgundy, France to gain firsthand experience from various experts as part of a co-operation agreement between the Governments of the Western Cape and Burgundy.

Mr Marius Paulse, Director of the Programme for Structured Agricultural Education and Training at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (on the right) that funds the scholarships, says that this exchange programme is one of the Department’s flagship initiatives. “We are significantly contributing to the local dairy and cheese industries and the Department is proud of the success of this project and foresees that it will continue indefinitely” he says.


bf-2012The names of the four cheese makers selected for the 2012 cheese making scholarship to Burgundy, were announced on 25 April during the DuPont Qualité Awards Dinner. They appear f.l.t.r: Marlon Visagie (Portobello), Alba Lamprecht-Pfaff (Nuwehoogte), Joyene Isaacs (Head of Department: Western Cape Department of Agriculture), Jackie Davids (Anysbos), Michael Visagie (Fairview). Photographer: Roger Sedres. One of the new yoghurt judges at the 2012 judging of the SA Dairy Championships, was Adri Swartland, one of the four fellowship students that went to France in 2006. At the time she was a student cheese maker at Parmalat Simonsberg and today is the Quality Managerat Fair Cape, a well known yoghurt manufacturer in the Western Cape.


bf-2011The names of the four cheese makers selected for the 2011 cheese making scholarship to Burgundy, were announced on 27 April during the Danisco Qualité Awards Dinner. They appear back l f.l.t.r: David Jackson (Simonsberg Cheese), Kobus Mulder (Agri-Expo Dairy Manager), Jonathan Hendricks (Kasselshoop Cheese) Front f.l.t.r: Lezl Pietersen (Arista Dairies), Andries Hendricks (All Seasons Dairy).

The Fellowship remains highly successful as can be seen from the improvement in the cheeses made by past students. During the year, the cooperative agreement between the Burgundy and Western Cape governments was extended for another five years, which is excellent news for local cheese makers.

One of the decision makers who made his curtsy as judge at the 2011 SA Dairy Championship judging, is Vernon Manuel, the first student in 2005 of the Burgundy Cheese making Fellowship. Manuel, born in Worcester, completed his studies as food technologist and then joined a well known goat’s milk cheesery in Paarl as quality manager. On his return from Burgundy, he introduced remarkable quality improvements at the cheesery and also developed a new cheese. He is presently employed as dairy technologist by a well known retail group known for their quality products, where he is responsible for the group’s cheese quality.


bf-2010The Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape, Gerrit van Rensburg, attended the Danisco Qualité Dinner when the names of students for the 2010 Burgundy Cheese making Fellowship were announced. They were: F.l.t.r.: Leonard Majampa of the Rhodes Food Group with Minister Gerrit van Rensburg; Nellie Fisher, Clarance Job of Ladismith Cheese; and Kobus Mulder (Agri-Expo). Not present: Doreen Blom of Alfalfa Dairy, Worcester.

Two past students of the Fellowship, Mahlomola Moso and Bongi Nondzaba, were invited as trainee judges to the 2010 SA Dairy Championship judging and their participation was well covered by the media.


bf-2009Sixteen Western Cape cheese makers have now been trained through this programme. which was initiated by Agri-Expo in 2005 and since sponsored by the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape. Their vision to support cheese making in the province has strategic value, as more than 50% of all South African cheese is now manufactured in the Western Cape.

Winners of the 2009 fellowship, announced at the Danisco Qualité Dinner on 22 April were F.l.t.r.: Bongani Nondzaba, Ingrid Olivier, with Kobus Mulder (Agri-Expo), Gerald Garnad and Anton Klein.


bf-2008In 2008 Danisco came on board as naming rights sponsor of the Qualité Dinner and when the four students’ names were announced for the Western Cape Burgundy Cheese making Fellowship, Danisco handed each a traveling bag for their trip to France. The winners this year are Willem Bosman, Mooivallei Kaas, Bonnievale, Chaneë Truter, Imhoff Cheese, Noordhoek; Dollencia Willemse, Kasselshoop Kaas, Stilbaai and Barenise Croy, Jersey Fresh, Malmesbury.


bf-2007This year’s students were announced at the Lake Foods Qualité Dinner and spent the period 9 – 30 June 2007 in Macon-Davayé studying the finer art of cheese making. Mahlomola Moso from Tulbach, Estalanie Marais from De Doorns, and Mario Jumat from Stellenbosch appear on the photo with Minister Cobus Dowry and Jean-Luc Bodin. Absent is Stefan Pockpas, the forth Fellowship winner.


bf-2006For the second year, the four lucky candidates for the French Cheese Making Fellowship were all women, especially appropriate since it coincided with the Premier’s Year of the Woman programme. Last year’s students performed very well since then – three new cheeses have already been launched and several improvements were made to their cheeseries. Minister Cobus Dowry visited the four women students this year in France to reassure himself as to the training they receive. The bursary winners were Nadia Jantjies (Ganzvlei Cheese), Elna Fourie (Alfalfa Dairy), Adri Swartland (Parmalat Simonsberg) and Christelene Kammies of Gay’s Guernsey Dairy (not on photo). They appear with Joyene Isaacs (Western Cape Department of Agriculture), Minister Cobus Dowry and Duimpie Bayly (President Agri–Expo).


bf-2005Mr Kobus Mulder, Manager: Dairy of Agri-Expo was instrumental and acted as project manager to send the first four Western Cape cheese makers from previously disadvantaged groups to Burgundy to study French cheese making. These four fortunate students were Tobias Mutota (La Montanara), Elliot Bunu (Trumilk Cheese), with Kobus Mulder, Minister Cobus Dowry (Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Western Cape), Johan Ehlers (Agri-Expo General Manager), Jacko van Beulen (Klein River Cheese) and Vernon Manual (Fairview Cheese). This is one of the most exiting projects Agri-Expo has been involved with in 2005 and as it is a three-year project, we will see an enormous quantity of new cheese making knowledge brought into the Western Cape.