Eastern Cape rural areas milking it big

The Eastern Cape is fast-becoming one of the promising dairy-producing provinces in the country as many dairy projects are opening in rural areas.

The Eastern Cape is fast-becoming one of the promising dairy-producing provinces in the country as many dairy projects are opening in rural areas. Picture: FILE

In the past few years, the dairy projects have generated more than R127-million in profits and more than R65-million has been paid in wages to staff of these facilities.

Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti said this when they opened the Seven Star Dairy Trust in Keiskammahoek recently.

Nkwinti’s spokesman Mthobeli Mxotwa said the projected profit this year alone was estimated at R43-million and said it is expected that 30 million litres of milk will be produced this year alone.

“The long-awaited rural economy transformation model (RETM) of the Rural Development and Land Reform Department has started in earnest in the Eastern Cape with the recent official opening by Nkwinti of a cheese factory in rural Keiskammahoek. The minister emphasised that the youth should be trained in various skills, so they could be able to drive the rural development projects,” said Mxotwa.

Different dairy projects in the Eastern Cape employ more than 140 staff members.

“Nkwinti’s rural development policy is aimed at transforming the previously underdeveloped rural enclaves into sustainable, economically viable human habitats that will discourage rural villagers from flocking to cities in search of a better life,” he said.

Currently the department is in volved in these dairy projects:

lThe Shiloh Dairy in Whittlesea which started in February 2011 and is currently milking 900 cows;

lThe Mantusini Dairy in Port St Johns which was started last year, is still in the development phase milking just under 300 cows with the potential to milk 800 cows;

lThe Coega dairies in Port Elizabeth; and

lThe Seven Stars Dairy Trust in Keiskammahoek.

Recently, the Amadlelo Agri and Seven Stars Dairy Trust celebrated 10 years of growth and development of communal dairy farming.

“Amadlelo Agri, which provides the dairy expertise, has clubbed together with irrigation schemes in the Eastern Cape with the vision to make the province the breadbasket of Africa. Amadlelo contributes to the transformation by creating profitable, sustainable black-empowered agribusiness,” said Mxotwa.

In 2005, Amadlelo partnered with the then Eastern Cape department of agriculture to resurrect the irrigation schemes in the former Ciskei and Transkei homeland that used to produce milk.

“The journey began with the opening of a 900-cow, state-of-the-art training facility at the University of Fort Hare in August 2007. This was followed by the development of 600 milk cows at Middledrift Dairy which opened in 2008,” Mxotwa said.

“The minister advised that the dairy factory be revamped and funds be made available for small-scale pasteurising and cheese production.

“A decision was taken this year to substantially increase the size of the processing from 600 litres to 10000 litres per day in two shifts. The factory also produces four streams of cheese for the high-end market, as well as butter, sour milk and milk for the local market,” he said.

This project is also selling milk in neighbouring countries. — bonganif@dispatch.co.za