R300m citrus scheme to boost workers

The Sundays River Citrus Company is poised to launch what is potentially the country’s largest-ever black economic empowerment project in the agricultural sector when it invests about R300-million into a massive citrus farm.

The company, based in Addo and South Africa’s largest exporter of citrus, is a step closer to implementing its Ikamva Lethu Farm project, which is expected to create 800 new permanent and seasonal jobs.

The development follows the project having been awarded a 20-year water licence last month, a step critical to its success.

The project was started in earnest when the company purchased 1 200ha of land – of which 675ha is licensed for irrigation – for R15-million from an Addo farmer last year.

The scheme, in which Sundays River Valley workers and packers will have a 60% shareholding, will see the establishment of one of the region’s largest citrus farms.

The income will be put into a trust, with the farm owners and their workers benefiting financially from the first harvest.

A condition of the project is that the empowerment shareholding in the farm’s operating company, Ikamva Lethu, may not fall below 59% at any given time.

This was laid down by the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation which issued the water licence.

The next phase of the project will involve an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which is expected to be followed by the construction of infrastructure, such as pipelines and dams, in 2018.

But this will only be done once an EIA has been conducted.

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