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November 28, 2010

South African mining company partners in farming, agriprocessing

by Loni Prinsloo

Diversified mining group Xstrata inked a R42-million contract with Lonrho's agri business to develop and operate a commercial farming and agriprocessing development at its Thorncliff alloys mine in South Africa's Limpopo province.

The first phase of the project valued at R14,4-million, would start immediately and included the establishment of a core anchor farm, Global GAP packhouse and the training, mentoring and management of 300 rural community outgrowers. This phase is scheduled to be completed before December 2011.

The project forms part of Xstrata's community enterprise development programme that was established to provide sustainable economic growth and diversification in the mining communities where the company operates.

Lonrho is tasked to work with local subsistence farmers to develop a farming cooperative that would deliver the yield, volume and quality of production necessary to establish a commercially viable agricultural business.

The agreement with Xstrata would provide the funding necessary for Lonrho to design and develop the infrastructure, irrigation, farming and agriprocessing facilities necessary for the cooperative to be able to produce on a commercially viable scale.

Through its existing agri-logisitics business and cold chain management services Lonrho would provide access for the farming cooperative to the formal commercial market, which it deemed essential to ensure that the project could maximise prices for the fruit and vegetables produced.

Lonhro chairperson David Lenigas said that there was also an opportunity to replicate the project across Southern Africa, which could have a significant impact on rural agricultural communities and their sustainability.

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