Land-claim community gets R32m boost

Dairy farm to be expanded with provincial government funds

A new milestone in a successful land restitution project was reached yesterday when a provincial government investment of R32-million in a Tsitsikamma dairy farm’s operation was announced. Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said the investment in a new milking shed and equipment would expand the operations of Wittekleibosch dairy farm, 25km southwest of Humansdorp. Dairy farm manager Lindile Blouw said: “This is what we have been hoping for and asking government to do for a long time.” The first claim finalised under the Land Claims Restitution Act of 1994, Wittekleibosch is partowned by the Wittekleibosch Development Trust (WDT), which represents 152 families of the AmaMfengu tribe who were forcefully removed by the apartheid regime between 1977 and 1978. Through a joint venture between the WDT, which uses land as the asset for the agreement, and commercial dairy farming brothers Johan and Willie du Plessis, the Wittekleibosch farm sells the 6.2 million litres of milk it produces to Parmalat. Qoboshiyane said the investment would result in the expansion of the dairy farm and its operation, which employs six managers and 72 labourers. The new milking shed is expected to add eight more jobs. The expansion of the farm formed part of the land restitution project, Qoboshiyane said at the farm yesterday. “This money will be used for the construction of a rotary dairy parlour with 66 points, feeding system, handling facilities and waste management system,” the MEC said. A contractor had already been appointed by his department, with the turning of the first sod taking place yesterday. The Mfengu community comprises families who live in the Doriskraal, Snyklip, Wittekleibosch and Nuweplaas areas and now fall under the Tsitsikamma Development Trust.

The Eastern Cape has produced 30% of the three billion litres of milk produced by South African dairy farmers so far this year. Last year, the province produced one billion litres of milk with more than half of that coming from the Humansdorp area. The WDT owns 51% of the enterprise, while the Du Plessis brothers own 49% of the shareholding in Wittekleibosch, which has about 2 320 Friesland heifers. Qoboshiyane said the R32-million investment was required because the farm’s present facilities did not have adequate capacity for milking. Blouw said the investment would facilitate improvements in the machinery used to milk the cows, among other benefits. “We will now be able to milk more cows. “This is going to be the start of a lot of small projects [and] will be a way of supporting other smaller cattle-farming projects in the area,” he said. Johan du Plessis said for the past 14½ years he, along with five other residents, had been working together to develop the land before forming the joint venture. “We are looking forward to the future,” Du Plessis said. “There was no joint venture before. “Five members of the black community and commercial farmers in the area worked together to develop the land. “We have a very good relationship.” Du Plessis said the main aspect for him now would be to transfer skills to members of the community.