SUGAR INDUSTRY COMES TO THE RESCUE OF SMALL-SCALE FARMERS


Sipamandla Mpikeleli


The South African Sugar Association (SASA) has joined hands with Enterprise iLembe Economic Development Agency in KwaZulu-Natal to give small-scale farmers the much-needed boost to grow their business.


Through its enterprise development programme, SASA has partnered with Enterprise iLembe to assist small-scale farmers who specialise in vegetable production across all four local municipalities -Mandeni, Ndwedwe, Maphumulo and KwaDukuza. 



This is a great initiative for small-scale farmers within iLembe District Municipality to produce and supply the National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) that Enterprise iLembe is currently embarking on with the Department of Education. This market is readily available but the local farmers are not supplying the required full quantity due to lack of infrastructure in the form of fencing and irrigation. The selected cooperatives were already supplying the NSNP but their fields were not fenced and troubled by livestock that are forever grazing on their produce. Moreover, their fields were are also without irrigation and thus limiting and confining their production and rotation. 


The R220 000 funding has managed to go a long way. Irrigation systems (drag lines method) - reticulation pipes, fuel water pumps and sprinklers were installed for four cooperatives. In addition, fencing was also installed for all these cooperatives. Enterprise iLembe continues to support these four cooperatives through the iLembe Incubation Programme. Agricultural officers are assigned to all cooperatives providing necessary technical support including seeds, seedlings, and transport to the market as well as a structured mechanization program.


Profile of the cooperatives 


1. Masisweni Primary Cooperative  

Project location: Khovothi Area, Ward 12, Mandeni Local Municipality                     

Founding members: 5 (all youth)  

Background: Masisweni Primary Co-operative was formed by a group of young people from Khovothi area with an aim of vegetable production, particularly cabbage, butternut and onions. The project was established in 2017 and registered as a primary cooperative in 2018. In August 2018, Masisweni cooperative started to supply Enterprise ILembe with vegetables for the National Schools Nutrition Programme. 


The project has access to land of 3 hectares and 1.2 hectares under production – 1 hectare planted with butternut and 0.2 hectare planted with spinach. As from August 2018 to April 2019 Masisweni Cooperative has produced 410kg of spinach with a value of R 2 255.00 and 4 880kg of butternut with a value of R 19 520. The total revenue so far is R21 775.  


Assistance provided: Enterprise ILembe assisted the cooperative with the production inputs that include land preparation, seeds and seedlings. The cooperative is currently transplanting onion seedlings and planted cabbage early this month. SASA’s funds covered the installation of a one-hectare sprinkler irrigation. 



2. Agri-vision Primary Cooperative

Project location: Mahlongwa Area, Ward 5, KwaMaphumulo Local municipality                 

Founding members: 5    

Background: Agri-vision Cooperative is also youth-owned and has permission to occupy 6 hectares of land from KwaHlongwa Traditional Authorities. One hectare of land has six (6) tomato tunnels and 5 hectares of land for open field projects. The growth plans are geared towards planting and growing vegetables on the 5 hectares and continue with growing tomatoes in the tunnels.


Under the open field project within Agri-vision, one hectare has been fenced and irrigation has been installed by Enterprise ILembe through SASA funding. Since this is virgin land, the plan is to first start producing green beans and thereafter carrots.


Assistance provided: Enterprise ILembe assisted the cooperative with the production inputs that include land preparation and seedlings. The cooperative has currently planted tomatoes in three tunnels for harvesting at the end of July. One hectare have been ploughed in preparation for carrot planting and a one-hectare sprinkler irrigation has been installed using the SASA funds. The total amount spent for both irrigation and fencing is R64 051.78.



3. Khulumawenza Cooperative

Founding members: 6    

Project location: Amanzaduma Area, Ward 11, Sonkombo, Ndwedwe Local municipality     

Background: Khuluma Wenza Primary Cooperative was formed by a group of women community members from Amanzaduma area with an aim of focusing on vegetable production, particularly cabbage, butternut, green beans, carrot and onions for supplying to the National Schools Nutrition Programme. The project was established in 2001 and registered as a primary cooperative in 2016. In January 2016, Khuluma Wenza Primary cooperative started to supply Enterprise iLembe with vegetables for the National Schools Nutrition Programme. 


The project has an access to land in the extent of 1.8 hectares which is under production. As from January 2019 to March 2019, Khuluma Wenza Primary Cooperative has produced and supplied 5 420kg of butternut with a value of R 21 680. 


Assistance provided: Enterprise ILembe assisted the cooperative with the production costs that include land preparation, fertilizers and cabbage seedlings. The members of the cooperative cleared the site, prepared the land, applied lime on the soil and planted for cabbage seedlings at the beginning of July. The SASA funds were used to purchase and install a one-hectare sprinkler irrigation scheme, installation of fencing and gates. The total area under production is two hectares in size.



4. Izinsimba Agricultural Primary Cooperative

Founding members: 6     

Background: Izinsimba Primary Co-operative was established in 2012 and has an access to land in the extent of seven hectares and one hectare is currently under production. In April 2018, the cooperative started to plant vegetables with an aim of supplying Enterprise iLembe with vegetables for the National Schools Nutrition Programme.


Assistance provided: Enterprise iLembe assisted the cooperative with fencing and irrigation. The cooperative is currently preparing to plant cabbages. Enterprise iLembe will assist the project with production inputs. Cabbages were planted in the second week of July. A one-hectare sprinkler irrigation scheme has been installed as well as supply and installation of fencing material. 



Sipamandla Mpikeleli is Rural Development and CSI Manager at SASA

arrow_upward