by Cindy Evans


PIC to invest in Vryheid vegetable processing initiative

PIC recently announced the signing of a ground breaking investment deal in Vryheid

Promising to breathe much needed life back into the poverty stricken black-owned farms and communities of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, this unique multi Public Private Partnership (PPP) transaction is the product of months of negotiation facilitated by Just Veggies and made possible by the investment of the PIC.

The deal was concluded a couple of months ago with a unique business model that sees these farmers become beneficiaries of the Siyakhula Community Trust who together with the GEPF each own 15% of Just Veggies PTY LTD. Other role players include the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the Department of Agriculture, the Agribusiness Development Agency Trust (ADA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Abaqulusi Municipality and The Abaqulusi Local Development Agency (Aledi).

The area between Vryheid and Pongola is recognised as one of the country’s 22 Presidential Poverty Nodes and has also been identified as part of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s land re-capitalisation programme.

Agreements between Just Veggies, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, ADA and the farmers aims to empower the local farmers of the area with the skills and best farming practices needed to manage workable and profitable farming businesses through the transfer of long term skills, good farming practices and sound financial know how. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the ADA have both committed to assist in recapitalising the farms and with production costs, while these farmers as partners have agreed to provide the land; labour and produce for guaranteed 100% use by the Just Veggies factory. The joint venture will create approximately 1 000 jobs in the area with the Just Veggies factory employing a further 70 people full-time and between100 and 300 part-time.

At present three black-owned farms, sustaining hundreds of families and covering approximately 400 hectares comprising of good quality soils and an abundance of water, in the area, have signed up with Just Veggies in an agreement to produce organic and conventional vegetables using Best Global Practice standards for the exclusive and assured use in the factory.

The state-of-the-art Just Veggies factory, located 30km outside of Vryheid in Coronation specialises in the processing and packaging of fresh and frozen produce, grown by the these local farmers, for distribution to central distribution points in SA and abroad. Just Veggies’ commitment to the Siyakhula Community Trust beneficiaries aims to assist with the recapitalization and rehabilitation of the farms and to ensure they become fully self-sustainable enterprises for the long-term benefit of the community. The 15% of the Just Veggies processing plant owned by the Siyakhula Community Trust is in itself is a unique business model because it means these farmers have further participation in the value chain.

“The PIC is delighted to have funded this transaction which will create approximately a thousand much needed jobs in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our business is to ensure that we invest for development and to change the lives of ordinary people. This transaction will see ordinary community growers play a significant part in the business as they will supply all the raw material needed for the success of the business. The community owns a significant 15% equity in the business.  This transaction also contributes immensely towards food security and the eradication of poverty. These together with job creation are part of Government’s programme. We are therefore delighted to contribute towards Government’s greater plan of job creation and the eradication of poverty,” said the PIC’s CIO Daniel Matjila.

Just Veggies is jointly headed up by ex-Springbok and Sharks player and Coach Dick Muir and ex-banker and businessman Lex Campbell.

“This is an exciting business model that will also make a real difference to these previously disadvantaged communities and we hope will be an example of a true PPP. We couldn’t have wished for a better partner than the PIC, who together with the commitment of all the role players involved this would not have been possible. We look forward to making this venture a success and to the support of the retailers, industrial caterers and other end users,” said Campbell.

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