The Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) presented landmark multimillion-rand support to Komani’s agro-processing packhouse in Cacadu Town (Lady Frere) on Friday.

The R15 million funding for the packhouse was made possible through the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund.

Another five co-operatives from the Chris Hani District Municipality involved in agriculture and manufacturing received R500k each from the Imvaba Co-operative Fund.

MEC for Environmental Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mlungsi Mvoko made the handover while visiting the area to confirm that the funds are being used for the intended purposes and verify the employment impact.

Funding for the packhouse project will be used to refurbish the facility and will make a significant contribution to its expansion and sustainability.

Mvoko explains that the Komani Fresh Product Market is a collaboration with the Rural Agro Industrialisation and Finance Initiative (RAFI), another government intervention, which is helping to diversify the industrialised economy of the province through new agricultural-based industries.

“The Chris Hani project is a big step forward for the region which aims to increase its capacity to produce value-added products through intensive private sector investment in extensive primary production.”

The construction of the packhouse is underway and is due to be completed by the end of August 2021. Twenty-five jobs will be created during the construction process.

It is expected that the project will create jobs by aggregating communal fields into large single commercial fields and upscaling production. As part of a signed agreement, 30 primary co-operatives will supply fresh produce to the packhouse. About 80 hectares of the winter season crops will be produced by the co-operatives; 220 hectares of summer crops will also be produced.

The project will be implemented by Chris Hani Co-operative Development Centre and managed by Chris Hani Development Agency. The five co-operatives that received funding are located in Lady Frere, Elliot and Ngcobo and in are agriculture and manufacturing. The co-operatives will use the latest tranche of funding to build infrastructure and skills, and for operational costs.

The funding secures and will sustain the jobs of 72 co-operative members and other employees. The co-operatives are the Zingxondo Primary Cooperative, Tshintsho Lobomi Multi-Purpose Primary Co-operative, Njobeythu Agricultural Primary Co-operative, all located in villages in the Cacadu (Lady Frere) surrounds. The Nkobongo Land Production Primary Co-operative is in Elliot, while the Nkobongo Land Production Primary Co-operative is in Ngcobo.

Friday’s presentation formed part of a two-day trip by MEC Mvoko. On Thursday, 10 June 2021 he presented LRED and Imvaba Funding to five entities in the Joe Gqabi District that totalled R2,7 million.

Talking about how other small entities can access funding, Mvoko said it was evident from the latest relief funding applications that some businesses that had applied did not qualify because forms were incomplete and mandatory documents had not been submitted. In some cases, businesses did not comply with industry standards. However, Mvoko says the Department is now working very closely with the municipalities to share information regarding the funding instruments, requirements and qualifying criteria to assist businesses that experienced this type of challenge.”

“In addition, the Department, through ECDC, will provide R1,5 million to help SMMEs with certification and accreditation,” he ends.

The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) manages the Imvaba Co-operative Fund. The Department manages the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund.