Cape Town – A landmark deal is promising to bring much needed relief to the poverty stricken black owned farms and communities of Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Just Veggies, an agri-processing business in Vryheid, concluded the multi public private partnership (PPP) transaction after months of negotiation between the parties.
The deal aims to empower the local farmers of the area with the skills and best farming practices needed to manage workable and profitable farming businesses through the transfer of long term skills, good farming practices and sound financial know how.
It involves a unique business model that sees these farmers become beneficiaries of the Siyakhula Community Trust. The trust and the GEPF each own 15% of Just Veggies.
Other role players include the department of rural development and land reform, the department of agriculture, the Agribusiness Development Agency Trust (ADA), the department of trade and industry (dti), the Abaqulusi Municipality and The Abaqulusi Local Development Agency (Aledi).
The area between Vryheid and Pongola is recognised as one of the country’s 22 Presidential Poverty Nodes and has also been identified as part of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s land re-capitalization programme.
The joint venture will create approximately 1 000 jobs in the area with the Just Veggies factory employing a further 70 people full-time and between 100 and 300 part-time.
So far three black-owned farms, sustaining hundreds of families and covering approximately 400 hectares of good quality soil and an abundance of water, have signed up with Just Veggies.
They will produce organic and conventional vegetables using Best Global Practice standards for use in the Just Veggies factory, situated 30km outside Vryheid.
The factory specializes in the processing and packaging of fresh and frozen produce for distribution in South Africa abroad.
Just Veggies is jointly headed by ex-Springbok and Sharks player and Coach Dick Muir and ex-banker and businessman Lex Campbell.
The PIC represents the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).
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