According to DARDLA spokesman Nelisiwe Sithole, the department had chosen Boschrand Farm just outside Mbombela out of 12 potential properties. “Feasibility studies show that this is the ideal location for the fresh produce hub because it’s conveniently situated near most consumers. This project forms part of the department’s performance agreement,” she said.
DARDLA MEC Violet Siwela confirmed that the department had bought the land for R45 million from Hall & Sons. Siwela said that the land currently had irrigated sugarcane on it. Until the construction of the fresh produce hub commenced, the company would be leasing the sugarcane plantation from DARDLA.
“This is such a great partnership because until the construction starts in October this year, the farm will still be utilised and not left unattended,” she said. “We’ll transform this land into a hub where all local producers can bring their products to be packaged for supermarkets. “We will also be planting fresh produce such as subtropical fruits which are suitable for our climate.” Currently, producers have to transport their products to Johannesburg. Siwela said the new hub would save growers transaction and agriculture trade costs and it had the potential to create thousands of jobs.
“We’ll also work hand in glove with Swaziland and Mozambique during this project. With this initiative we want to address poverty, employment and equality,” she said. Dr Rob Snaddon, executive director of Hall & Sons, said that after being in business for 125 years, the company was starting to see a change in land ownership trends. “Hall & Sons have always been known as a farming company but have recently decided to add on a land development company. With that in mind, we’ve decided to enter into this partnership with DARDLA and have made a pledge to assist in development projects. “We wish the department the best of luck with this project and look forward to assisting where needed,” he said.