Farming together we can do more
The Crossways Farm Village project in Thornhill near Port Elizabeth is the first of its size in South Africa to combine a rural residential development with scientifically based farming. Many new jobs, as well as new opportunities for investors are also being created.
For ten workers who had been on Crossways Farm long before it was earmarked for development, the Crossways Farm Village project has brought unexpected benefits. They will be rewarded for their hard work with stands valued at R400 000 each, registered in their names.
One of the excited beneficiaries, 46-year old Vuiyisile Tshunungwa, had never owned any property before. The thought of owning some land touched his heart deeply and would change his life, he said. "I encourage others who dream of owning property to be patient and never lose hope".
Crossways Farm Village fits in perfectly with government's rural development strategy. When completed, it will have created nearly 3 000 permanent jobs in a largely farming area. It will also have expanded existing irrigation pastures and a dairy farm, which is in line with the government's commitment to food safety.
Profits of the business will be split between the homeowners association, the farm management and the farm workers.
In its motivation for approving the concept, the Eastern Cape Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the village offered the opportunity for rural development and economic stimulation, job creation, equity and ownership to previously disadvantaged people, as well as training and mentoring of emerging farmers, education and the expansion of existing agricultural activities.
At the heart of the development will be a fully operational dairy farm with a 500-strong herd of stud Holstein cows. Once this is up and running, fruit orchards and vegetable farming will follow. All dairy products and agricultural produce will be available to the residents.
While officially launching the construction phase of buildings at Crossways Farm Village recently, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, said what was happening at Crossways was in line with the spirit of sustainable property ownership contained in the Green Paper on Land Reform. "It fulfils government's goal of creating vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all."
The Minister said the concept of an agri-village was part of the department's agenda and promised that the department would work in partnership with the Crossways community. "We want to move with you as fast as possible," he said.
He commended the developers of Crossways for including the whole of Ward 7 of the Kouga Local Municipality in their strategic plan. "We want Kouga to be industrialised soon."
The Kouga Local Municipality's territory includes small towns like Jeffreys Bay, Oyster Bay, Hankey, Patensie and Humansdorp, which have the potential for economic growth. Ward 7 of Kouga has rural areas like Loerie, Thornhill, Kleinfontein and Longmore.
-T K Sonjica, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform