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Igniting the local economy: the Lambasi agricultural initiative

Commercial farming plays a crucial role in providing sustenance, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for many South Africans.

This is why Anglo American’s enterprise development arm, Zimele, collaborated with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund to help establish entrepreneurial projects such as the Lambasi agricultural initiative – a jointly owned farming operation, trading as Fundirite (Pty) Ltd, in the Lambasi Farms area in the Eastern Cape.

Two years since its inception, the Lambasi agricultural initiative is celebrating its second harvest after having successfully aggregated 900 hectares of arable land into a single commercial farming entity, representing 490 individual landowners. This was largely achieved through the vision of Paramount Chief, Inkosi Mthuthuzeli Mkwedini.

In addition to stimulating economic activity in Lambasi, the initiative has also garnered 100 seasonal jobs and significant off-take agreements for beans, yellow and white maize, and other agricultural produce with Farmwise Grains.

Below, you can see pictures from the recent harvest day at the Lambasi project, which took place on 28 May. 

Aspire to grow 

Anglo American Zimele’s Sebenza Fund (the jointly funded entity with the Jobs Fund) invested R14 million (US$ 920,000)  in Fundirite to finance land preparation, input costs, planting, harvesting, training as well as the technical support provided by our partner, Technoserve. As part of the training and development programme, 294 farmers have been trained to date in technical and business related aspects.

“Our approach is to support and elevate the aspirations of the businesses, communities and entrepreneurs we fund and support. These farmers believe that their business has scope for growth. As they expand to other crops, such as sunflower, potatoes, and beans, it is clear that the farming operation will spur much-needed economic development in the community,” says Hlonela Lupuwana-Pemba, Managing Director of Anglo American Zimele.

Sagay Moodliar, Technoserve SA Country Director says, “When we started two years ago, we realised that many community members in the Lambasi area were farming maize and beans as individual subsistence farmers with very uneven outcomes on yields and quality. We saw this as an opportunity for the Lambasi community to come together and pool their land and resources in order to undertake commercial farming practices. The farming operation is creating economies of scale, wealth and addressing the challenge of food security.”

International food manufacturing company Kellogg is providing significant technical training and base-line research and analysis. “As a global food company, Kellogg has a significant role to play in helping to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, commented Sylvia Radebe, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs for Kellogg South Africa.

Unlocking the potential of rural development 

The Eastern Cape Province from Butterworth to Bizana (former Transkei region) represents the most active labour sending area for Anglo American—particularly its platinum mines—and boasts more than 200,000 hectares of arable land and coastal microclimate conducive to farming.

“This day bears testimony to our conviction as government that working together with the private sector, traditional leadership and communities, we can transform our rural areas into hubs of vibrant economic activity. Effective public private partnerships are vital in achieving our goal of bringing one million hectares of underutilised land into production and overcoming the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality," says Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana.

The project is part of Anglo American’s ongoing commitment to realising the objectives of South Africa’s National Development Plan. Rural development, through sustainable enterprise, has the potential of transforming the lives of many South Africans.

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