This program earned a Gold award.
Prior to the 1994 elections in South Africa, black-owned or occupied land was often forcibly taken and given to white farmers; this is now being addressed by the current government through its land redistribution programme, but is facing some problems: land has been returned to families with little or no experience in farming, meaning farms fall into dis-use or production drops; while skilled white farmers have no land. In order to try to address this, Amadlelo was established in 2004 by 70 commercial dairy farmers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The aim was to take under- or un-unutilised land and develop it to its full potential; train local community members in farming and management; and address some of the issues currently facing the dairy industry in South Africa (the country is currently facing a shortage of 120m litres; and imports of milk from South America are increasing. Many farmers use feed for cattle, as their land is not suitable for grazing, and this increases their costs, having a negative effect on their farms.) To this end, Amadlelo established a partnership with Fort Hare University, with a number of aims: establish successful dairy farms on redistributed land; only use grazing for feeding cattle (in some cases this entailed programmes to improve the soil and grazing potential of farms); establish skills transfer programmes, so that local community members could eventually begin running the farms themselves; train locals to be able to manage farms in other areas; and provide employment for community members on the farms. Four projects have been established: the Fort Hare Dairy Trust; the Middeldrift Dairy Farm (application #055); the Keiskamma Irrigation Scheme; and the Ncera Macadamia Project. The Fort Hare Dairy Trust is a for-profit dairy farm, established in 2007, which is an 800-cow commercial dairy operation. It also involves teaching centres, to train students in farm management. The Middeldrift dairy, once it reaches full capacity, will be a 600-cow dairy farm. The Keiskamma Irrigation Scheme is attempting to resuscitate 600ha of farmland, and to eventually assist in milking 2000 cows. The Ncera Macadamia Project aims to be a 300ha farm, which will have significant employment capacity. Clover Dairy buys and sells all the milk produced on the farms.
Innovation: The project aims to achieve two goals: develop under- or unutilized redistributed farmland to its full potential; and ensure skills development and capacity-building to allow local community members to manage their own farmland. This helps to make the government land redistribution programme more successful; assists in the agricultural production capacity of the country; and creates employment opportunities for numerous community members.
Effectiveness: The Fort Hare Dairy Trust started production in 2007 and is already economically viable. The first student graduates have already moved on to new projects as junior managers. The Middeldrift Dairy Farm began in November 2008 and broke even in March 2009. The Keiskamma Irrigation Scheme is due to implement its first phase in October 2009, milking 1000 cows (again, all milk is bought by Clover). The first 50ha of the Ncera Macadamia Project have been planted, and once further funding is accessed, the remainder will be planted.
Poverty Impact: Two of the projects are already self-sustaining (the two dairy farms); and also involve a large amount of skills transfer and capacity building. The Keiskamma Irrigation Scheme aims to employ 40 people, and benefit 36 farmers once running at capacity; while the Ncera Macadamia Project will potentially employ 300 people, and benefit 10 000 community members. The greatest impact on poverty is that all the farms provide work in an area where there was formerly high unemployment; and also provides opportunities for local community members to learn about farm management and develop their own farms in the future. It also increases the agricultural productivity of the country, which helps to lessen the amount of imports required.
Sustainability: As already noted, two of the projects are already self-sustaining, and the hope is that the second two will become self-sustaining too once they are running at full capacity. A large amount of funding (R15m) was provided by the Land Bank; while Amadlelo put forward a further R17.2m. The National Empowerment Fund provided money for the Middeldrift Dairy project (R9.5m); while the Department of Agriculture put money in the Macadamia and Fort Hare Dairy Project (R8.5m in total). A further R1m was sourced from ECDC. All the land and labour is provided by the local communities and Fort Hare University; while training and technical expertise is provided by the University, Kula Development Facilitators and TGK Farming. It seems likely that all the farms will become self-sustainable in the future, meaning they are financially sustainable; but also sustainable in terms of personnel, because of the skills transfer to local community members.
Replication: Similar projects in the region are already being planned, with the aim of eventually milking 6000 cows. The fact that there is more than one project being implemented, and that these projects cover different types of farming, shows that this initiative can be replicated in different areas across the country. Funding will need to be accessed, as well as buy-in from local community members. However, if there is significant local buy-in, less funding will be necessary (as land and labour can be accessed); and sustainability is more likely. Also, because this project helps to make the government land redistribution process more successful, hopefully government will become more involved in similar projects in the future.