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
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.”