The Masisizane Fund was established in 2007 as an initiative of the Old Mutual Group and with a mandate to contribute measurably to job creation that in turn helps eradicate poverty in South Africa. The Fund focuses on creating clusters of partnerships that work together toward the common goal of establishing sustainable farming ventures operating the formal value chains. In 2013, the Masisizane Fund adopted a Cluster Development approach in order to address the agricultural challenges faced in the rural Eastern Cape and to ensure socio-economic transformation. Clustering small scale farmers to ensure that they benefit from economies of scale has its own challenges and nuances. Some of these challenges, particularly in remote rural areas, include deficient infrastructure, long distances from markets, skills deficiencies and social dynamics among others. It is only when one is immersed in the work in these areas that the challenges that lie ahead become visible and they can be daunting. It is for these reasons that the Masisizane Fund has based their work on the following principles: • Building a foundation and establishing trust among the cluster of farmers and partners. • Creating the necessary infrastructure by building capacity, providing financial assistance and networking opportunities. • Putting systems in place starting with steering committees and ongoing support, mentoring and training. • Developing partnerships and incorporating the technical support provided by government in the form of extension services. • Working with government and other financial partners to leverage the available financial resources. WE WERE FACED WITH THE FOLLOWING AGRICULTURAL CHALLENGES IN THE RURAL EASTERN CAPE: • How do we develop rural communities where there is no infrastructure or capacity? • How do we assist the local farmers to establish sustainable farms/businesses, creating work opportunities and improving food security? • How do we bring disconnected and small farming ventures operating in the informal markets into the formal value chains, local and even global? • How do we ensure that small farmers gain economies of scale, which is one of the critical success factors in modern farming? In an attempt to provide answers to these questions, the Masisizane Fund established a flagship pilot project in the Alfred Nzo and Harry Gwala districts. These areas are characterised by high levels of unemployment, low economic activities and investments, dependency on social grants and a high number of unskilled labourers. With the aim of bringing about economic transformation with a legacy effect in these areas through agricultural investment, a total of 1600 hectares were planted with soya and dry beans in the Matatiele, uMzimkhulu and Nkwazini areas during the 2014/15 season. The severe drought that affected South Africa and Southern Africa had an impact on the production of this pilot project, which as a result produced yields significantly below expectations, generating revenue of R2.86 million with 20% distributed to funded entities as dividend and land use fees.
MASISIZANE FUND BEFORE It is however during difficult times like these that continued assistance is needed. This is why the Masisizane Fund committed to further support farmers by planting 1180 hectares in Matatiele, 1 500 hectares in uMzimkhulu and 50 hectares in Nkwazini. The main crops for this season are maize and soya beans with maize introduced for crop rotational reasons and as weather patterns have changed from dry spells during the last season to the return of normal seasons in the area. Nkhangweni (Robert) Matsila, Sector Head (Agri-Business) says, “The target lands have been mapped, soil preparation proceeded well and planting is close to completion and on time. We are working with farmers to fix some problems here and there and are positive to see good results this season.” AFTER Robert Matsila Sector Head Agri-Business A flagship office has been established in Kokstad to oversee all activities of the Eastern Cape flagship programme with other regional offices as follows: Kokstad Flagship Office 039 727 3100 Ndlamini2@oldmutual.com Eastern Cape 043 704 0116 email@example.com Gauteng (incl North West & Free State) 011 217 1746 firstname.lastname@example.org Western Cape (inc Northern Cape) 021 509 5074 email@example.com KwaZulu-Natal 031 335 0402 Snkosi4@oldmutual.com Limpopo (incl Mpumalanga) 015 287 4279 firstname.lastname@example.org OMBDS 12.2016 L10069 An initiative of the Group Old Mutual is a Licensed Financial Services Provider