MPO appalled by failed Vrede dairy project

The Milk Producers Organisation (MPO) is concerned over the negative publicity the dairy industry was receiving as a result of the failed R570-million Free State dairy project.

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The Estina Dairy, on the outskirts of Vrede, is mired in controversy and last week the Mail & Guardian reported that nearly 30 dead cows were dumped in a ditch about 4m away from a river that provides Vrede with its drinking water.

The Free State’s agriculture department put up most of the money for the project, while a foreign owned company linked to the Gupta family is supposed to make up any shortfall.

MPO CEO Bertus de Jongh said the commercial dairy industry could not bear the brunt of the failed project. “In view of the potential damage the controversy regarding the project can cause the image of dairy farming, I wish to confirm that commercial dairy farmers are not involved with the project.”

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He said that while the MPO welcomes any investment in the dairy industry it has to be paired with a thorough feasibility study, a sustainable business plan and sound management.

“The Estina Dairy is not a commercial undertaking but a provincial government project. In addition, the formal dairy industry was never consulted before or after the establishment of the dairy farm.”

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Question: Who is to blame for the ‘failed’ dairy project? Leave your comments below.