The Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC’s) new Pro-Forestry Scheme (PFS) has invested its first millions in setting up a BEE timber production initiative, paving the way for many similar deals in the SA forestry sector.
Ntuso Projects Holdings (NPH), owned by top black KwaZulu-Natal female sugar and timber farmer Thamsanqa Zimu’s Ntuso Family Trust, was recently given approval for R19 million financing by the PFS through the IDC’s Competitive Financing for Development programme. This money will be used to develop the trust’s recently acquired Pierremont Farm, near Bulwer in the KZN Midlands, into a 1046ha commercial eucalyptus and pine production operation.
According to the IDC, the PFS was set up to facilitate the establishment of new commercial forestry areas with black ownership. Where commercial forestry areas already existed, the PFS’s objective was to facilitate the transfer of commercial forestry areas to businesses with a broad-based black shareholding.
Rentia van Tonder, head of the wood, paper and other industries business unit at the IDC, said NPH’s financing would be paid off over 14 years. “Some of the criteria for accessing financing from the Pro-Forestry Scheme includes the creation of at least 10 permanent new jobs under the new commercial forestry areas category, and the business must have technical support from appropriate parties such as large growers in the private sector or the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in the public sector under the existing commercial forestry areas category,” Van Tonder explained.
Sappi Forests entered into an agreement with the IDC to fund the purchase of Pierremont Farm’s land while also paying for the farm’s afforestation. Sappi will enter a long-term timber supply agreement with NPH, and provide the farm with free seedlings and technical and management support. – Lloyd Phillips