Agri Hour

FS Agriculture Department ‘happy to hand over #Vrede project to rightful owners’

───   ELSABÉ RICHARD 05:30 Mon, 17 Jan 2022

FS Agriculture Department ‘happy to hand over #Vrede project to rightful owners’ | News Article
Premier Sisi Ntombela (Photo: Free State Provincial Government)

The Vrede Dairy Integrated Farm Project, located in Vrede in the Free State, has finally been handed over to 65 beneficiaries after years of waiting.

The province's MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development, Thembeni Nxangisa, handed over the project on Friday, which included almost 600 cows, milking equipment as well as tractors. 

See PODCAST below

The MEC was speaking to the media after the handover and stated that they are delighted to have handed over the project to the beneficiaries. He further added that the agriculture department and provincial government have invested more than R280 million in the project and stated that the beneficiaries, whom he refers to now as the owners, have committed to work closely with the government in order to make a success out of the long-awaited dairy project.

When Nxangisa was asked about the beneficiaries’ response after the handover, considering how long they’ve waited, he said that they voiced their frustrations of having to wait years, but that it was worth the wait in the end.

“I was saying to them it means for them today onwards that they are instant millionaires. They must hold onto those shares and they must not sell the farm. They must not sell their shares.

“It’s a huge investment. They must work closely [with the government] because we’ve made an undertaking in that we will work with them for the next three years, mentoring them [and] conducting training,” he said.

Nxangisa added that Premier Sisi Ntombela, who was also part of the handover, has set aside R20 million to further invest in the farm.

With regards to the much-publicised Estina saga and the measures put in place to prevent it from happening again, the MEC stated that the department has “set in motion tight processes. One of them is that they (the beneficiaries) have registered a trust – Vrede Integrated Farming Trust – which is going to run the farm.

“Secondly, they have appointed six people as executives and the government has assisted them to appoint an accountant, a lawyer and we’ll be sending a senior manager as part of the team…”

READ MORE: DA welcomes official recognition of Vrede Dairy beneficiaries

Meanwhile, OFM News’ Olebogeng Motse recently reported that the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State has emphatically welcomed the official handing over of the controversial Vrede dairy project to the selected beneficiaries. The leader of the DA in the Free State, Roy Jankielsohn, sees the handing over of ownership certificates as a win for the beneficiaries.

The project, which fell under the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Mohoma Mobung concept, was initiated in 2012 and according to court documents, an estimated R250 million was set aside for it by the state. Despite the aim of the project being the betterment of black farmers in the Free State, so far none of the beneficiaries have seen a cent of the funds allocated to the project - nearly nine years after it was initiated. This is despite a 51% stake in the project.

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