Members of the rural community of Ncera in the Eastern Cape, south of East London, are rolling up their sleeves to earn a living.
Back in 2005, the community of Ncera, which is made up of nine villages under the leadership Chieftainess Nobotwe Jongilanga, established the Vulindlela Development Trust.
The trust manages a 300-hectare farm and grows macadamia nuts, which is used in chocolates.
Using the land at their disposal, the trust is creating jobs in Ncera and surrounding areas, developing sustainable black farmers, improving the living conditions of the locals and developing a world-class macadamia farm.
Managing director of Ncera Macadamia Farming Wayne Simpson said: “The Ncera plantations have created 90 permanent jobs and 14 seasonal jobs so far and are poised to create 400 jobs at full production.”
“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 their 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,” added Simpson.
Vulindlela Investment Trust owns 51 per cent of Ncera Macadamia Farming. The remaining 49 per cent is owned by private investors - Amadlelo Agri owns 23 per cent, Kula Macadamia 14 per cent and Nellfield owns 12 per cent.
Recently, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform committed to help Ncera Macadamia Farming, with Minister Gugile Nkwinti pledging R36 million to the project.
This amount, he said, would be used for the construction of a 10.8km pipeline to supply the project with water.
Minister Nkwinti said he was impressed with the work done by the project since his last visit in 2006. He acknowledged the good model used there with ilima (where community members work together) and urged communities to lead government on initiatives.
Operations manager of Ncera Macadamia Farming Sthembele Dyasi said the project has made a positive contribution to the community.
Dyasi started on the farm as a general worker, pushing a wheelbarrow and worked his way up.
He said the farm had provided jobs for locals who had been unemployed.