The CPE team visits a harvesting operation on the community farm with (left to right) Thembi Ndlovu (CPA member), Jabulani Ndlovu (CPA Chairperson), Zandile Bhengu (CPA Vice-Chair), Aubrey Masikane (CPA farm manager) and Eza Mapipa of NTE.

Amandla Emvelo CPA, a community owned and managed tree farming enterprise based in Hermannsburg, KZN, has recently upgraded its forestry equipment thanks to a R1 million grant from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The new equipment includes a Massey Ferguson Tractor (MF 4708), a 5000L Rogue Steel Water Cart and an 8-ton Tipper Timber Trailer.

The CPA, which has 110 members, is the owner of a 365 ha timber farm in Hermannsburg, 290 ha of which is planted to wattle (70%) and gum (30%). The farm was purchased from the Lutheran Mission by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and transferred to the Amandla Emvelo CPA in 2005.

When the CPA took over the farm it was in poor condition and could best be described as a wattle and gum ‘jungle’. However with financial, administrative and technical support from NTE, a R1.6 million loan from IDC and plenty of hard work from the CPA committee and farm employees, the farm has been turned around and is now harvesting 300 tons of wattle bark, 1 500 tons of wattle timber and 400 tons of gum timber a year.

All forestry harvesting and silviculture operations are performed by the CPA staff which includes 12 permanent employees and up to 25 seasonal workers (when required), all of whom are from within the community.

Members of the CPA with the new fire tender and tip trailer purchased with IDC grant funding (left to right) Eza Mapipa (NTE), Thembi Ndlovu (CPA member), Zandile Bhengu (CPA Vice-Chair), Jabulani Ndlovu (CPA chairperson) and CPA farm manager Aubrey Masikane.

According to Chris Nicholson of IDC, the original IDC loan is almost fully paid up. He said the grant was made in 2019 to support the community who needed additional equipment for forestry operations and fire protection. The IDC team is also busy doing a community needs assessment to identify and prioritise future development needs and opportunities.

Chris acknowledged the role of the CPA’s strategic partner, NTE, which he said has played a key role in ensuring the success of the enterprise.

NTE has supported the CPA from the outset, providing R2 million loans for working capital, and providing on-going mentorship and administrative and technical support. NTE provides a market for the CPA’s wattle bark, and many of the CPA members are also NTE employees.

Fresh wattle bark being delivered to the NTE factory on the new trailer.

The NTE support team, including community development forester Eza Mapipa and NTE’s financial director, Bruce Findlay, meet monthly with the CPA committee that runs the forestry enterprise.

Bruce says the aim of NTE’s support for the Amandla Ezemvelo CPA is to create a sustainable business that will be of lasting benefit to the community.

Farm manager Aubrey Masikane said that NTE is playing an important role in the successful management of the business that goes way beyond just mentorship.

Jabulani Ndlovu, Amandla Emvelo CPA chairperson, said that the forestry business was creating jobs for community members. He said they had also set aside a 1.4 ha site to build a school, and that the forestry team also assists the community by supplying water and firewood when there is a shortage.

*First published in SA Forestry magazine, March 2020

Related article: Slow but steady as forestry takes root in E Cape



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