Farmers in Matatiele’s Ongeluksnek area in the Eastern Cape are set to reap the rewards of massive training and funding investments.
This is thanks to the Masisizane Fund and the provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.
Masisizane is an initiative of Old Mutual that aims to contribute meaningfully to employment creation, poverty eradication and economic growth through enterprise finance and support to small, medium and micro enterprises. It has invested heavily ino opening up the capital-intensive commercial farming industry to small-scale black farmers. Matatiele, near the Lesotho border, has been one of the main beneficiaries.
The fund has invested R80 million in farms in the area, benefitting over 3 400 people from poor households. As a result, 498 people have found employment. Fifteen farms extending over 3 500 hectares have been supported.
MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Masisizane Fund CEO Zizipho Nyanga attended an event at the 150-hectare Delamote Farm recently, to mark the start of the harvesting season.
Delamote Farm received a R1.55 million investment from the fund in the past year.
Owner Doreen Moshoeshoe said even though this was her first year as a farmer, she expected a good harvest of about five tons per hectare, thanks to the assistance of the department and the Masisizane Fund.
Emerging farmers commercialised
Recently, over a dozen Matatiele farmers received administrative training to help them better manage the business aspects of their farms. Farmers also received soft loans and business support.
“We source grant funding for farmers from government and other partners, and give assistance in the form of loans and business support to guarantee a successful farming enterprise,” said Nyanga.
She added that the fund helps find viable markets for the farmers and assists with off-take agreements that see the maize being sold to big companies.
“We are happy with the partnership between the farmers, Masisizane Fund and the department. With more of these types of partnership, we can quickly address agriculture-related issues. Moving from primary production as we see here to value addition is the best way we can grow our farmers,” the MEC said.
The department has committed R3.77 million for the 2017/18 financial year. This is on top of the fencing that it has already provided to the farmers.
MEC Qoboshiyane said: “If we can build good relations between farmers, investors and financial lenders then we can turn what should have taken 10 years into a three-year project. This would allow the building of processing and storage facilities so that when the maize price dips, the farmers can store their maize
and sell it at premium prices later.”