On rad­i­cal agric­ity

The pi­lot project that is Nkosi City is planned as a self-sus­tain­ing set­tle­ment of farm­ing co­op­er­a­tives that will tap into mod­ern ameni­ties

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

Pien­aar – out­side Mpumalanga’s cap­i­tal, Nel­spruit – is a sprawl­ing vil­lage with a mix of pala­tial, mod­est and rick­ety houses. Rich and poor live side by side, but it is no se­cret most are poor. As a re­sult, the neigh­bour­hood is one of the most crime-in­fested in Mbombela Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Spaza shops, tav­erns and small brick-mak­ing con­cerns are hemmed in hap­haz­ardly be­tween the homes. Some res­i­dents are sub­sis­tence farm­ers, grow­ing crops and livestock on the out­skirts of the tribal trust set­tle­ment west of the Kruger Na­tional Park.

This is where a new and in­no­va­tive R6 bil­lion agric­ity de­vel­op­ment on 968 hectares of land is about to be built. Prop­erty de­vel­oper Philip Klei­jn­hans de­scribes the Nkosi City project as “not another set­tle­ment of re­con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme (RDP) boxes sit­ting on top of each other”.

In­stead, it is be­ing planned as a self-sus­tain­ing city, where each prop­erty or stand will be an or­ganic farm that will pro­duce crops such as veg­eta­bles and citrus fruit for mar­ket.

“In ad­di­tion to be­ing a cen­tral busi­ness district for the area – pro­vid­ing the ameni­ties of a mod­ern city at the doorstep of sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties – Nkosi City will be a sci­en­tific ur­ban farm­ing project,” he said.

“This new con­cept of an ur­ban farm was con­ceived specif­i­cally with job cre­ation in mind.”

Nkosi City will be made up of 2 500m² of domestic agri­cul­tural units op­er­ated un­der AfriGrow, a not-for-profit agri­cul­tural com­pany. Sources: Mpumalanga gov­ern­ment; theta­plan.co.za Each agri­cul­tural land par­cel will be flanked by two bonded and two RDP houses.

The farm­yard will have a co­op­er­a­tive type of pro­vi­sion store, where farm­ers will have ev­ery­thing they need, from seed and fer­tiliser to trac­tors and other equip­ment.

It will also be sup­ple­mented by an on-site pro­cess­ing and pack­ag­ing fa­cil­ity that will pack­age the farm­ers’ pro­duce for a su­per­mar­ket group.

Klei­jn­hans said that nor­mally in de­vel­op­ments where so­cial hous­ing was pro­vided, many un­em­ployed res­i­dents de­pended on money sent home at the end of ev­ery month by the men of the com­mu­nity who worked away from home.

“With the ur­ban farm con­cept, some of th­ese un­em­ployed res­i­dents could be work­ing their land parcels and de­riv­ing sup­ple­men­tary in­come,” said Klei­jn­hans.

“Given its in­come-gen­er­at­ing con­cept, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity also has vastly in­creased po­ten­tial to de­rive rates and taxes from th­ese ur­ban farms, as op­posed to many so­cial hous­ing de­vel­op­ments which fail dis­mally in that re­gard.”

Nkosi City will still ac­com­mo­date the rich and the poor, like Pien­aar does. It will be a set­tle­ment with 3 000 RDP houses, 800 mid­dle-in­come prop­er­ties and 700 high-in­come houses.

It will also tap into the tourism in­dus­try – be­cause of its prox­im­ity to the Kruger Na­tional Park – by hav­ing a lodge.

A new gate into the park will be opened. A hospi­tal, schools, a tech­ni­cal vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­lege, agripro­cess­ing plants and re­tail stores will form part of the new city.

The Nkosi City project has been in the pipe­line for about six years. Ini­tially, the Mpumalanga gov­ern­ment did not buy into the idea and it was shelved, de­spite be­ing part of Mbombela COBUS PRINSLOO, Graph­ics24 mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s In­te­grated De­vel­op­ment Plan.

It now has the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port, and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti ap­proved the han­dover of the land to the Com­mu­nal Prop­erty As­so­ci­a­tion. Nk­winti’s depart­ment will also send as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers to Poland on a study tour of agric­i­ties.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s spokesper­son, Mandla Msibi, said Nkosi City would be built by the lo­cal Pien­aar res­i­dents from start to fin­ish.

While en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, fea­si­bil­ity and so­cioe­co­nomic stud­ies are done, lo­cals will un­dergo train­ing in the var­i­ous skills and also help to form co­op­er­a­tives.

“This is a poverty al­le­vi­a­tion project that will have an ef­fect on the lo­cal econ­omy” Msibi said.

“We have taken ev­ery­body on board. Ten­ders here, from con­struc­tion to any­thing, will ben­e­fit the co­op­er­a­tives formed by the lo­cal peo­ple.”

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