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AGRICULTURE

Commercial agriculture in the district produces one-fifth of all bananas consumed in South Africa, as well as vegetables, sugarcane, tea, coffee and macadamia nuts. There are a number of businesses successfully exporting these products to some of the most exclusive packers in the United Kingdom.

Ugu’s extensive wattle, gum, pine and poplar plantations are processed by about 200 small sawmills. There is potential for the establishment of new timber plantations and supporting industries including biofuels using sugarcane and timber, and the processing of tea tree and aloe essential oils.

The Ugu Fresh Produce Market provides retailing and limited agri- processing opportunities as well as a link to the Durban and Eastern Cape markets. The market has a large area of land available for the expansion of agro- processing facilities ranging from fresh food to dry goods packaging. The Ugu Fresh Produce Market forms part of the network of markets in KwaZulu-Natal linked to the Dube Trade Port.

banana plantations 1
Sugarcane plantation

Did you know?

The KwaZulu Natal government has set its sight at the agricultural sector as a priority industry to fast track the province’s mandate of radical economic transformation through a programme it calls, the Radical Agrarian Social Economic Transformation (RASET).

South Coast Macadamia Nut Growers Win Awards

Largest ever global macadamia nut crop was supported by record prices in 2017.

This was announced by Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs during a recent meeting with the province’s agricultural representatives.

Zikalala told the farmers that despite a R2.2 billion per annum budget between three government departments; Department of Health, Social Development and the Department of Education which is spent on purchasing food, not much has been achieved in transforming the province’s economy.

The MEC told the farmers that through RASET the KZN government wanted to solve rural and township communities’ socio-economic problem by empowering Black Africans to create their own wealth, provide jobs, eradicate poverty and redress economic imbalances.

Through RASET, the provincial government will prioritise previously disadvantaged smallholder farmers by procuring from them, fresh produce, poultry and beef. Zikalala said farmers should declare their state of readiness (to supply these products) to their nearest agricultural office to be registered on the supplier database of the RASET Programme.

“What we mean to achieve with this programme is to empower black and African farmers and ensure that they play in the mainstream of this sector. The aim of RASET is to grow the agricultural sector, through ensuring participation by those who were previously-marginalised and ensuring that they benefit equitably from this sector,” said Zikalala.

He said the programme is not designed for handouts but for trade between primary suppliers of any size and designated government intermediaries.

“In this regard, we have roped in municipal-led development agencies to facilitate these transactions,” said Zikalala.

However, the under-utilisation of agricultural land and constrained production levels of small farmers remains a challenge. Hence the KZN government has roped in government owned development financiers such as Ithala and KZN Growth Fund to ensure that they make available funding and non-financial support to agricultural entrepreneurs to help ensure that the agrarian socio-economic transformation ideal is realised.

Explaining why agriculture was a priority sector, Zikalala said in the face of a negative economic outlook and following the devastating drought, the sector resiliently remained unaffected. In fact, the industry saw a 22% growth in the first quarter of 2017.
Research done by Stats SA also stated that the agricultural sector supplies goods worth R267 billion.

“However, as expected, those to claim a lion’s share of this boon were largely White, established farmers who are involved in agriculture as commercial farmers while Black farmers are involved in the sector mainly as farmhands, labourers and subsistence farmers,” Zikalala added.

He said it was disappointing that the vast majority of the 19 051 farmers registered in KwaZulu-Natal do not reap discernible financial returns.

According to Zikalala, the South African economy is still skewed in favour of the established private sector, which monopolizes the entire value chain of food items.

  “The previously disadvantaged farmers still find it difficult to access available markets for their produce,” he said.

Many previously disadvantaged producers still don’t have access to agricultural markets due to the monopoly of large producers; high barriers to entry within markets and government bureaucracy. Zikalala said government’s food procurement system still largely benefit the established commercial farmers.

 

Reference: Agrifood News Network

The general manager of Coastal Macadamia, Ann Baker (second from left) with local award-winning macadamia growers, (from left) Dave Mitchell of Bushy Vales Farm, Blaine Peckham of Outlook Farm and Kurt Worthmann

LOCAL farmers walked away with a number of awards when the Green Farms Nut Company hosted an end-of -year function for its KwaZulu-Natal region at The Packshed Restaurant in Margate recently.

With more than 80 guests attending, it was the biggest gathering the company had ever hosted in this region. There is currently no other company in South Africa as heavily invested in the macadamia industry.

Our KwaZulu-Natal facility, Coastal Macadamia, will double its processing capacity next year. The value we place on our farmers’ support is imperative,” said Green Farm Nut company chief executive, Jill Whyte.

Every year the company runs competitions in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, the three regions where they have factories.

Attending the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry business breakfast held at Mojo’z Southcoast Mall last Tuesday are (from left) Rupert Herselman of FNB, president of the chamber Vijay Naidoo and Rishi Duki of FNB.

THE South Coast is ranked among the top macadamia nut growing and processing areas in the country. This was said at the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry business breakfast session held at Mojo’z Cafe in Southcoast Mall last Tuesday.

Stuart Gregory, founding member of MayoMacs, unpacked the story of macadamia nut farming on the coast and gave a talk about some of the opportunities available in the industry.

According to Mr Gregory, macadamia nuts are a growing market in South Africa, as South Africa is the third largest macadamia nut producer in the world, after Australia (where they originated) and Hawaii.

Mr Gregory said, if farmers were willing to wait several years for a return on their investment, macadamias were the way to go.

Macadamia trees take about five to 12 years to produce nuts and a good tree can produce nuts for many years. Although the trees require a hot, subtropical climate without much humidity, careful planning was still required to ensure they were of the best quality.”

Mr Gregory said the recent winds experienced on the South Coast had been a major threat to the trees but the situation is manageable.

 

“Not only are macadamia nuts excellent for investment purposes and great on profit returns, they are good for everyone’s health.”

Reckoned to be a high-energy food containing no cholesterol or trans fatty acids, macadamia nuts have rapidly become a profitable business for growers around the coast.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, medical research has shown that the consumption of macadamias may significantly lower the risk of heart disease.

Source: South Coast Herald