5 April 2004

Southafrica: Sugar Beet and Hemp Project Gets Financial Boost

PRETORIA, South Africa — The Eastern Cape government has allocated an initial R5 million to Uvimba Bank to expedite the implementation of the Sugar Beet Project in the province’s mid-Karoo region.

The move forms part of support extended to ongoing major projects set to advance the goals of the provincial growth and development plan (PGDP) especially on job creation and economic development. It follows a meeting of the provincial Executive Committee (Exco).

Spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said the project was set to create over 2 000 jobs and re-invigorate the economy of the area in line with the goals of the PGDP.

“The Exco was informed that favourable commercial trials were conducted and would be extended to include other irrigation schemes seen as having a great potential such as Tyefu and Ncora irrigation schemes,” he said. He added that an initial 5,000 hectares of land had been secured for launching the project in collaboration with various key private sector role-players.

A company established to drive the project, Sugar Beet RSA (PTY) Ltd, is working through a service provider to develop a detailed business plan for the project. The Department of Agriculture is also finalising the process of appointing a project manager to facilitate the implementation of the business plan.

Mr Wolela said the project brought hope to many challenged families in the province especially in the mid-Karoo region with regard to jobs, economic prosperity especially for the under-developed communities. “The project,” he said, “will require an investment of over R500 million that will inject new life to the rural hinterland.”

The project has three major components that will anchor its job creation potential which include crop production, processing as well as marketing and distribution of products. Sugar beet provides sugar and all its by-products at affordable prices for the people. The project has the potential to export to international markets especially to Europe in future.

Meanwhile, a drive to produce hemp in the Eastern Cape took a new and positive turn when the Department of Health agreed to register 2,000ha of land for commercial hemp production. The programme also received a shot in the arm with the Department of Trade and Industry undertaking to allocate R55 million towards a hemp processing plant in the province, said Mr Wolela.

“A variety of research trials for hemp production in various areas of the province namely Addo, Dohne in Stutterheim, Fort Cox in Middledrift, Libode, Mthiza in East London, Tsolo and Qamata in Cofimvaba, have demonstrated the potential of the province in commercial hemp production.”

Source: Global Hemp News vom 2004-04-01.

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