Investing in community farms

Eastern Cape producers will receive R3m to finance purchase of 300 cows over three years

Five black-owned community dairy farms in the Eastern Cape will receive R3-million to expand their businesses. The Famous Brands Cheese Company (FBCC) and Coega Dairy will each contribute R1.5-million over three years to finance the purchase of more than 300 dairy cows for the farms.

This comes after Amadlelo Agri, a black empowerment agricultural business which manages the five farms, approached the Coega Dairy and FBCC last year to assist local community farmers to attain ownership of their own dairy herds.

Famous Brands enterprise development chief operations officer Andrew Mundell said a large number of the cows on the community farms were leased from commercial dairy farmers.

“By investing in this project we will assist the community farmers to gain increased access, participation and ownership in the value chain,” he said.

The five community farms which will benefit from the investment are the Fort Hare Dairy Trust, Middledrift Dairy Trust, Keiskammahoek Dairy, Shiloh Dairy Trust and Ncora Dairy Trust.

Mundell said the farms delivered about 25% of the FBCC’s total milk intake.

“Ensuring security of supply of raw milk is critical to the FBCC and Coega Dairy and this investment will achieve that.

“It is projected that the cows and their future offspring will produce in excess of 10 million litres of milk over a five-year period.”

The Coega Dairy was founded in 2011 through the partnership of existing commercial farmers with previously disadvantaged communities.

The dairy procures milk from producers in the Eastern Cape and processes UHT milk and butter at its facility in the Coega Industrial Development Zone. The products are then sold nationally through retailers and wholesalers.

The FBCC was established in 2012 when Famous Brands entered into a ground-breaking joint-venture partnership with the Coega Dairy to supply cheese products to the Famous Brands group.

The FBCC comprises a state-of-the-art cheese manufacturing plant adjacent to the Coega Dairy’s facility.

The company procures its milk from the Coega Dairy, and produces mozzarella, cheese slices, cheese spread and cream cheese for the group’s franchise network.

The plant processes nine million kilograms of products a year.

“We established the FBCC to further our strategy to build the group’s manufacturing capability and leverage opportunities in the supply chain,” Mundell said.

“Over the past five years, the intake of raw milk at the Coega Dairy has increased by 14% per annum, while milk intake for cheese at the FBCC has increased by more than 20% over the past four years.”

Coega Dairy chief executive Victor Korsten said both companies were committed to developing production from community farms.

“This locally focused empowerment investment will make an important difference in a particularly needy province,” he said.

Amadlelo Agri chief executive Jeff Every said the investment would bring empowerment for the farmers.

“Amadlelo was formed in 2004 by community farmers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal for transformation in the dairy sector and we’ve been pushing that agenda since then,” he said.

“All the cows [on these farms] belong to Amadlelo, while the land belongs mostly to the government, but also to community members.

“This is the start of a process of giving the farmers ownership of their own cows.

“This means their share in what we are doing will get bigger and bigger over time.” Every said.

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