Long-Term Community Development Investment Pays Off

agriculture economy income generation projects
Thursday, 5 September, 2013 - 09:54

The Ncera Macadamia Farming Project is just one of the examples of how a community-based project can enable community members to have sustainable jobs and income to sustain their livelihoods 

After nine years of waiting, the community of Ncera, a sprawling rural settlement located just outside East London, celebrated the success of its long-term community development project in the form of a launch to welcome the first harvest from the Ncera Macadamia Farming Project.

Along with local government and community organisations, the people of Ncera village hailed the success of the project, a community planting and harvesting initiative which aims to alleviate poverty and create employment in the region.

“This launch seeks to recognise and celebrate the first harvest of an initial 50 hectares that is currently being cultivated, out of a total of 300ha.This is the first community-owned Macadamia plantation in the Eastern Cape – the community owns the full macadamia value chain, namely the nursery, plantations and the processing plant,” explained an elated Wayne Simpson, Ncera Macadamia Farming’s managing director.

In short, the overall goal of the project is to utilise the Ncera land to create long-term, sustainable economic opportunities and jobs in Ncera and surrounding areas.
Simpson explains  further: “The Ncera Plantations have created 90 permanent jobs and  14 seasonal jobs thus far, and are poised to create 400 jobs at full production and also inject a salary bill of R9 million per annum into the local economy  perpetually.”

The Macadamia plantation is a project of Ncera Macadamia Farming, an initiative that was created with a long-term vision of developing into a world – class macadamia farm and to help improve the living conditions of the people of the Ncera community. The company upholds social development ideals, especially the development of sustainable black farmers, and has committed itself to investing in other social upliftment projects.

The Ncera community is rich in human and land resources. With that in mind, Ncera Macadamia Farming believes that the way forward for all stakeholders is through sharing these resources and developing these community assets in a sustainable manner. Eighty hectares of community land has been planted to macadamias already, acting as the model for further expansion into the Ncera community.

The government has supported the Ncera communities with infrastructure to develop their land and make it attractive for private sector investors to partner with the community, to develop the Macadamia plantations and to supply international markets with Macadamia nuts. 

Vulindlela Investment Trust (VIT) - also one of the supporters - currently owns 51 percent of Ncera Macadamia Farming, while the remaining 49 percent is owned by Private Sector investors. The deal is such that government provided funds on behalf of the community to build orchard infrastructure on their land, which they own.
The project has made tremendous progress since starting to operate in 2005. “This project has been good for the community of Ncera and having worked with them from the beginning, I have to say I am very proud of the progress and development. We hope to acquire more land to extend the project and we are accessing all the help we can get to help us reach our goal. We recently joined the Legends business support programme which is sponsored by Old Mutual and it has been very helpful in terms of marketing support and dealing with some of the challenges we experience,” adds Wayne.

Among the achievements of the project is the 104 jobs created, training and skills development, further development of sustainable black farmers and the commitment of future company dividends into social upliftment projects.

The launch itself was a jovial affair attended by chiefs, mayors and members of nearby communities. Chief Dumalisile of Amajingqi from the Mbashe area attended the launch along with his tribal council and other members from his community.

“This celebration indicates that communities are able to own and drive their own initiatives and be fully sustainable, as against projects imposed on people. We believe that this project will have a great impact on the community and that is why we (AmaJingqi) support it. That is also why we have availed our land to be considered for a similar project,” concludes chief Dumalisile.

To learn more about the Ncera Macadamia Farming Project, contact Wayne Simpson on 081 320 3482 or email him on wasimp@mweb.co.za.

- Abram Molelemane is media officer at Fetola. 

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