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October 31, 2010

Small-scale farmers keep international brewer supplied with maize

Around 250 emerging farmers from Uthukela District Municipality in the northern Drakensberg are to supply South African Breweries (SAB) with yellow maize after the brewer entered a partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.

Although SAB is in the business of making and selling alcoholic beverages, some of its products rely heavily on agricultural crops like yellow maize. SAB will buy 5000 tons of maize from the farmers in the first year of the project, with the quantity gradually increasing over time.

At least 1 500 hectares of high potential land has been identified in the Okhahlamba, Indaka, Imbabazane and Umtshezi local municipalities. Maize production potential for these areas is estimated at between four and six tonnes per hectare.

The KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development department is helping local farmers through its Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme and Mechanisation Support Programme to participate in the newly identified market.

The department has made a pool of 18 tractors with implements available to provide a comprehensive mechanisation service to the district. The tractors will remain in the care of the department and will be used by the farmers at no cost through a booking system.

"We have a responsibility to support emerging farmers, to ensure that they develop to their full potential and become fully fledged entrepreneurs," said Johnson. "The issue of sourcing out markets once the food has been produced is a challenge we are now addressing."


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