Macadamias making growth possible
Eastern Cape Macadamia (ECM) has played a massive role in making South Africa one of the top macadamia producers in the world. ANLERIE DE WET takes a look at ECM’s latest project in Amajingqi and how it has benefited the local community
The Amajingqi Macadamia Farm (AMF), situated on the scenic Eastern Cape coast, was launched in October 2016. Mkululi Pakade, director at ECM, says the farm is run in partnership with the Amajingqi Traditional Council outside Willowvale, and its aim is to alleviate poverty prevalent in the community.
“With the vast hectares of fertile land and abundant water resources between the Shinxini and Jujura rivers, the macadamia project provides a real opportunity for the community,” says Pakade. “Since its launch, approximately 200 ha of land have been planted and 300 ha will have been planted by the end of April.”
This farm currently has 131 permanent employees, of which 118 are from the community. Another 13 people are employed seasonally. The employed community members first receive training at the world-class nursery at the Ncera Macadamia Farm – ECM’s first successful community farming project, situated outside Alice.
Employees then have the opportunity to further their education through the Macadamia Skills Academy (MSA) – ECM’s educational programme. Through MSA employees can attain a National Certificate in New Venture Creation, Business Administration Services, Project Support Services and a Further Education and Training Certificate in Project Management.
“The development of the macadamia industry at Amajingqi and Ncera has allowed for job creation, skills transfer, social upliftment and economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities. The quality of life in the communities has also improved for the workers, especially previously unemployed women,” says Pakade.
Lungiswa Ngoloza, a 48-year-old AMF employee, says the project has made a significant change in her life. Previously unemployed, she is now able to pay for her child’s education and help her family financially. “Many households have benefited from this project and without it life would be bleak for most of us,” says Ngoloza.
Lwando Mnqweno, a 36-year-old AMF project leader, says having a guaranteed monthly salary has changed his life and he can now make long-term plans. “I have gained experience in farming and I am on my way to becoming an expert in macadamia nut farming as I have gained knowledge of the soil types,” says Mnqweno.
“I can even tell at a glance if there is something wrong with a plant and immediately look for solutions. I have also gained leadership skills as we deal with people from about 12 villages situated near the plantation.”
South Africa is one of the largest macadamia producers in the world, having dethroned Australia for the number one position between 2011 and 2014. However, the recent drought resulted in South Africa’s macadamia production decreasing from 46 000 t in 2015 to 38 000 t in 2016.
The country’s macadamia industry is worth more than R4 billion, with China buying 36 percent of the country’s total production. Pakade says AMF is hoping to harvest the first 100 ha of macadamia trees between 2018 and 2019, while the full 300 ha should be ready to be harvested by 2021.
He notes that production should increase significantly as a result of the recent rains and South Africa should be back in the number one position by the end of 2017. Although it will be a while before Amajingqi’s first harvest, the farm has already made a massive difference to the lives of many people in the community.