OPINIONISTA

David Ka-Ndyalvan: Ncera Macadamia Farming Project is a beacon of hope for radical socio-economic transformation

The strength of the business model of this macadamia nut farm in the Eastern Cape has attracted protégés from the communities of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, to visit the Ncera site for lessons on the business model. The operating model provides 51% ownership to the community the Vulindlela Investment Trust, while 49%, of which 26% belongs to the BEE partners, is owned by the private sector.

The Ncera Macadamia Farming Project held its second festival, popularly known as Annual Macadamia Harvest Festival, on 3 and 4 November 2018 at Ncera village under the ImiDushane traditional council near East London in the Eastern Cape.

The festival, which boasts fun-filled rural excursions in the macadamia plantations and the toil of the community members, was meant to celebrate the nut harvest, showcase all other successes and share knowledge about macadamia nut farming. The event, attended by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana, attracted people from all over the country to descend on and grace the dusty village near East London.

Thus, the Ncera village, usually a quiet place, became a melting pot of social capital during the festival. And anyone born and bred in rural areas, on the outskirts of the mainstream economy and media attention, would not only be fascinated with the success of this agricultural initiative, but also would hope to tell a good story about rural development, which hardly makes headlines in the mainstream media.

A story that the doomsayers and pessimists such as the DA, Freedom Front Plus and their offspring, AfriForum, would rather consign to the periphery of the public discourse in perpetuation of white superiority in the agricultural sector.

These co-conspirators and the antithesis of socio-economic transformation have been hard at work peddling wrong information about the ANC’s 54th National Conference resolution of “expropriation of land without compensation” to scare investors. Only transformation’s enemy agents can forge an alliance against the ANC’s Nasrec resolution on land. And who would have thought, the leader of the Congress of the people (Cope), Mosioua “Terror” Lekota, would be on the opposite side of the National Democratic Revolution?

His September 2018 media briefing with Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, is a constant reminder of how quickly a revolutionary, if he ever was one, can abandon the cause of the mass struggle.

During the media briefing, these newly found alliance partners pledged to work together to mobilise the international community against the ANC’s decision to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation. Lekota has decided to join forces and defend white privilege and the beneficiaries of the genocidal land dispossession at the expense of the victims, the masses of our country. What a shame on Cope leadership.

While these naysayers and traitors are busy with their doomsday mission to cast a negative spotlight on our country, the macadamia harvest festival, without much media fanfare, laid bare to the pilgrims that the citizens of this country, working with the best interests for the development and empowerment of the downtrodden, could grind to a halt the stubborn triplets of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

To this end, some of the beneficiaries of the Ncera macadamia nut project testified that, before working at the farm, they were unemployed. As breadwinners, they struggled to support their families. The project brought back their dignity and enabled them to buy food and school uniforms. The project also allowed some beneficiaries who had been staying with their parents to build their own homes. It also stimulated community businesses as workers from the project used their money to buy from local traders. Talk of ripple effects.

Well, other than the obvious expected support from national government, my takeaway, cognisant of the reasons for some of the failed rural development projects in the province, is the will and determination of the people and the synergistic commitment from local councillors and traditional leaders.

There are rural development projects in other parts of the province, which either failed to reach or never reached their full potential due to corruption by self-imposed project steering committees, who took advantage of the apathy and illiteracy rate among community members and the conspicuous lack of involvement by local leadership (councillors and traditional leaders).

That said, it would be remiss of me not to overemphasise the strength of the business model of this macadamia nut farm, which has attracted protégés from the communities of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, to visit the Ncera site for lessons on the business model. The operating model provides 51% ownership to the community through the Vulindlela Investment Trust, while 49%, of which 26% belongs to the BEE partners, is owned by the private sector. The most empowering feature of this partnership is the guaranteed final say of the community on all procurement opportunities, skills transfer and jobs created by the project.

The success of the Ncera nut farm, which spans more than 180ha of land, has not only led to the creation of 145 permanent work opportunities, but also provided an opportunity for other communities from the Eastern Cape coastal belt to unlock their potential and improve socio-economic conditions through utilisation of their tracts of fallow land.

After its first harvest in 2013, the nut farm led to vast interest in macadamia nut production, especially among traditional leaders and their communities.

As such, the Amajingqi Macadamia farm, which covers more than 267ha, under the auspices of the Amajingqi traditional council, is a success story to tell after it followed the Ncera business model in May 2015. In a true sense of promoting social capital and active citizenry as envisioned by the ANC-led national government in the National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030, Ncera became a training site for Amajingqi community members and also produced trees for Amajingqi Macadamia site. This community initiative has since created 133 permanent work opportunities for unemployed and poverty-stricken people.

All of this begs the question: Who has a doubt that, with land at their disposal and the necessary support from traditional leaders, local municipalities and altruistic co-operation of capital, our rural communities could lift themselves out of poverty and lead sustainable livelihoods? They now own a high-end niche commodity with an export market in Europe, China and North America.

It’s a good story to tell. Is it not? DM

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