Tongaat Hulett in major land reform initiative

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Ayanda Mdluli

DURBAN – Major sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett has entered into a land reform partnership  with a local community in KZN which  is set to uplift the lives of more than 300 people in Nodunga, North of KZN. 

In June 1997, members of the Nodunga community in northern KwaZulu-Natal lodged a claim for land rights with the Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC) which was successfully approved in 2013.

The claim known as the Nodunga Communal Property Association (NCPA) consists of more than 300 beneficiaries.

In October 2017, the NCPA entered into a lease agreement with Tongaat Hulett. A total of 379 hectares of land was leased towards Tongaat Hulett.

Tongaat Hulett is currently one of the strategic partners of government

The company says it has invested considerable resources towards fostering public-private partnerships to stimulate rural local economic development and social upliftment.

Nkonzo Mhlongo, the company’s socio-economic development manager said “The working relationship with the NCPA is underpinned by a number of elements including sugarcane development; corporate social investment; capacity building and skills development.”

“We constantly support partnerships that benefit both the business and the surrounding communities where Tongaat Hulett operates,” she said. 

The sugarcane development initiative ensures Tongaat Hulett’s partnership with NCPA speeds up the process of planting sugarcane in the allocated land, thereby generating job opportunities for the community members.

According to Mhlongo, the corporate social investment element creates a platform for Tongaat Hulett and NCPA to support developmental projects and programmes within the community that focuses on, for example, education and training; sports and recreation; and infrastructure development. 

Furthermore, the capacity building and skills development programme ensures community members particularly the youth are encouraged to learn about the sugarcane agriculture.

“The sugarcane project will ensure that high potential youth within the community are given practical exposure during the various phases of the sugarcane development programme,” he explained. 

Thabani Zulu, chairperson of the Nodunga Communal Property Association Committee commented: “We are excited and look forward to a successful partnership. Already the partnership has generated 20 job opportunities in the community and affords quite a few families a livelihood.”

Tongaat Hulett and NCPA members have been pre-occupied with de-stumping the land that had previously been planted with timber.

In addition, the partnership plans to complete the land preparation and harvest sugarcane during the next planting season; identify local contractors to work on the sugarcane development projects and identify youth in the Nodunga community who are passionate about agriculture.

The company further revealed that several youth will be offered bursaries to study plant or animal production at Owen Sitole College of Agriculture School in Mhlana, north of Empangeni, while others will be given an opportunity to join the Junior or Senior Certificate course in Sugarcane Agriculture.