13 Jul Top officials descend on Ncera nut farm to find a way forward
13 July 2016 – They destroyed farm implements including water pipes, wrecked the nursery and set plants alight, causing damage to the tune of R595000.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch, Cele said the macadamia nut project had the potential to overtake sugar cane in KwaZulu-Natal and be the best crop in the country, so it needed to be sustained at all costs.
He said the recent protests could have been handled better instead of destroying what the government had invested money in.
“A few weeks ago, there was a problem with this project where [a] plantation was destroyed.
“We are here to see how bad the damage is and how to solve the problems that led to such a decision [of] destroying this project,” he said.
Cele was accompanied by senior government officials, a ward councillor and the project chairman, Joe Jongolo.
Cele said it was one of the projects that President Jacob Zuma was “proud” of, as it created food security and jobs, contributing to the wealth of both the community and the country. “We can’t just look on from the sidelines while the project is being destroyed,” he said.
Qoboshiyane called for patience from the community.
“Millions of rands have been ploughed into the project by the government. That does not mean this is hard cash [in people’s pockets], but money [is spent] to buy implements and products and – 51% of the shares are for the community. Why destroy what is yours?”
Qoboshiyane said the project had the potential to unlock further investment.
“This is a high-grade crop and has a five-star nursery. It’s the model for many others. It’s a very good story to tell,” he said.
Last month villagers destroyed parts of the 180ha macadamia plantation as they demanded, among other things, to know about the finances of the project and profits made from selling plants grown in the nursery.
More than R100-million has been invested by the government towards growing the project, and many people from the community have been permanently employed by it.
Last month, a meeting led by the Vulindlela Investment Trust (VIT) leadership said the project should represent all nine villages in Ncera, not just a few, and there should be financial transparency.
Princess NomaXhosa Jongilanga of Ncera said: “Leadership and governance is important in such a project. We need to respect each other and have dialogues when we have issues that need to be addressed.
“We can’t afford to lose such a project because of differences.”
Jongolo said the government had visited them to recommit themselves to the project.
“Having Deputy Minister Cele and MEC Qoboshiyane here reaffirms that what we are doing, we are doing right. Ncera should be proud of this work as many others will be modelled from here,” Jongolo said.
Photo: NURTURING TOUCH – Ncera Macadamia Farm chairman Joe Jongolo demonstrates some nut care to the visiting delegation. Looking on, right, are Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele and MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane Picture: GUGULETHU MTUMANE
Daily Dispatch: http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/top-officials-descend-ncera-nut-farm-find-way-forward/