R6m boost for reform farms

Assistance for Joubertina apple producers to expand orchards

Misgund farm worker Celiwe Sitwayi shows Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane how Pink Lady apples are graded during the harvest, watched by Novotile Mkhankanywa
Misgund farm worker Celiwe Sitwayi shows Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane how Pink Lady apples are graded during the harvest, watched by Novotile Mkhankanywa
Image: Thozi Manyisana

Joubertina apple farmers have been given R5.7-million by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the hope that the investment will bear fruit for the regional economy.

Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane visited the land reform farms in the region yesterday, also assisting in the harvest of Pink Lady cultivar apples.

The investment, which adds to R7.2-million invested by the department in the previous financial year, will be used to expand the production through new orchards.

“We are [investing in] these farms to ensure we give support to our farmers to protect the produce,” Qoboshiyane said.

“What we need most is the skills and the training. Our farmers must be affirmed. There must be infrastructure roll-out, focusing on issues of water [and] the preparation of water infrastructure.”

After the harvest, Qoboshiyane said he was happy to see the cooperation of emerging and commercial farmers.

“We decided to combine emerging black farmers with commercial farmers, because there must be a transfer of knowledge and skills.

“If we can take this whole land under full production, we can create employment sustainability.”
He said land ownership in the area was concerning, as only 4% of the farms producing deciduous fruit in the province were owned by black farmers.

“We would like to see that growing. We need our farmers to grow [and] we need them to work with commercial farmers.”

The department also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber to assist with economic transformation of the sector in the province.

The three land reform farms, comprising a total of 175 hectares, are expected to yield a combined 6 431 tons of deciduous fruit to be exported to the UK, US, Canada, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Russia, the Far East and the Middle East. To further drive expansion of the sector to create jobs, the department is joining forces with the Jobs Fund to establish a total of 316ha of deciduous fruit over four years and to create 305 permanent jobs.

Part of the transformation programme is to expand hectares under commercial production in the Misgund Small Farmers Trust, Tulpieskraal Workers Trust and JD Rovon farms.

Misgund Small Farmers Trust chairman Booi Jacobs said: “We pride ourselves on the fact that these apples are exported to various countries.

“Pink Lady apples are one of the greatest commodities for our trust.”

About 49% of the deciduous fruit produced by Eastern Cape farmers is exported, while 18% is sold locally and 34% is processed into various products.

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