Former farm labour tenants get behind land reform project

October 31, 2010

A community of former farm labour tenants who have acquired ownership of a timber, sugar and game farm in the Ixopo area, are getting involved in running the timber operation with support from Sappi Forests.

Kia Ora trust members Sappi and Kia Ora farm manager

Sappi's Senzo Mkhize (centre, back row), Trust and community members at the farm Kia Ora.

Senzo Mkhize of Sappi (left) and farm manager Fale Dlamini.

 

The farm Kia Ora, previously owned by Martin Bam, was bought by the Department of Land Affairs under the land reform programme and transferred to the Siyaphumula Trust, which represents nine labour tenant households that were resident on the farm.

The Trust has set up a business, Cyndara (Pty) Ltd to run the farming operations, and signed a long term Partnership Management Agreement (PMP) with Sappi to provide on-going management support for the timber operations.

Initially, the silviculture and harvesting work was done by contractors, but the community has now taken over the silviculture work, and plan to do their own harvesting from next year.

The Trust received a R2.5 million grant from the DLA to get the farming operations up and running. Basic forestry worker skills training has been facilitated by Sappi. Last year the community prepared their own fire breaks and met the insurance warranties.

The project has created 39 jobs on both the timber and sugar operations. The Trust owns the business, Cyndara (Pty) Ltd, and the day-to-day farming operations are managed by community member Fale Dlamini.

In terms of the Partnership Management Agreement, Sappi provides advice and technical and management support to the project. Sappi forestry staff, based in the district, assist with mapping, planning and supervision, ensuring that best forestry practices are maintained on the farm. They also provide free seedlings and basic forestry skills training, as well as financial control and business management training for the Trust members and company directors.

In addition, Sappi has a timber supply agreement with the Trust in terms of which they will purchase the timber at market-related prices plus 10%.

The PMP agreement covers two rotations, and will continue until 2023.

According to Fale, they plan to harvest 6 000 to 8 000 tons of timber a year. The timber is supplied to the Sappi Saiccor mill, while the sugar harvest is supplied to the Sezela Mill.

He said that the game farm is not yet operational as they still need to secure the necessary permits from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Sappi's manager in charge of the project, Senzo Mkhize, says the timber farm is not FSC certified at present, but the medium-term plan is to get the farm ready to apply for certification.

He said that the farming operations were progressing well as the beneficiary community had got behind the project and were determined to ensure that it continues to be productive.

Published in October 2010

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