Toast to suc­cess

May­ime vine­yard a life­line to more than 33 from Whit­tle­sea

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ZOLILE MENZELWA

WHEN her hus­band died in 1997 leav­ing her with four chil­dren and with the youngest only eight months old, 53-year-old Nok­wan­disa Gwadana and her chil­dren knew all about poverty for years un­til she spoke to the chair­man of May­ime Pri­mary Agri­cul­tural Co­op­er­a­tive Sel­borne Ce­cane about a job.

Ce­cane of­fered her a job at the co­op­er­a­tive's vine­yard when it started in 2012 with the plant­ing of five hectares of grapes, fol­lowed by an­other seven hectares in 2015. When the 2012 grapes were har­vested, it was taken to Cape Town for pro­cess­ing, lead­ing to the pro­duc­tion of Inkosi Wine by May­ime Win­ery. The project pro­duces a pino­tage and a chardon­nay.

Gwadana said she had, up till then, de­pended on the four grants of her chil­dren. “We re­ally strug­gled as I was un­em­ployed and we could not make ends meet. My chil­dren could not cope at school.”

She said the job had con­trib­uted pos­i­tively to her life and that of her chil­dren. Her dig­nity had been re­stored.

“My chil­dren are do­ing well now and I was able to save and send my two boys to ini­ti­a­tion school. We have learnt a lot through this project and it has helped to de­crease crime in the area. We at­tend short cour­ses.”

Nom­pho Bobotyana also started work­ing at the vine­yard in 2012 af­ter fail­ing ma­tric.

“I was an un­em­ployed mother who could not pro­vide or sup­port my child, but now I can and I see a bright fu­ture for this vine­yard. We have learnt a lot of new skills here and now I can even drive a trac­tor.”

Ce­cane said more than 33 peo­ple had been em­ployed at the vine­yard and the num­ber more than dou­bles dur­ing har­vest­ing. The land is owned by 400 com­mu­nity mem­bers. He said the sup­port re­ceived from gov­ern­ment was highly ap­pre­ci­ated. The co­op­er­a­tive formed a part­ner­ship with Farm Vi­sion which helps with the skills of plant­ing and nur­tur­ing grapes.

Chris Hani Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity po­lit­i­cal head for in­te­grated plan­ning and eco­nomic devel­op­ment Si­bongile Mbot­shane said the dis­trict au­thor­ity saw po­ten­tial in the project and de­cided to sup­port it.

He said Farm Vi­sion had formed a part­ner­ship with wine pro­duc­ers in Cape Town. On their re­cent visit to Cape Town, Mbot­shane said pro­duc­ers had com­mended the high qual­ity of the lo­cal grapes.

“In 2012, R6-mil­lion was bud­geted by CHDM for this project. The depart­ment of ru­ral devel­op­ment and agrar­ian re­form came on board and put in R14-mil­lion. This fi­nan­cial year we bud­geted R2.8-mil­lion. This was used for in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment and equip­ment,” he said.

The project has since pro­duced 3800 litres of wine.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is still look­ing at ex­pand­ing the project with the aim to cre­ate more jobs.

“We need to ap­proach the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and pri­vate part­ners be­cause we want to have a cel­lar for pro­cess­ing in Ko­mani. This will cre­ate more jobs and we will be­come known as the wine pro­duc­ers of the East­ern Cape.”

He said the dis­trict au­thor­ity was look­ing at find­ing ar­eas in the six lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that would also pro­duce grapes with wine pro­duc­tion through­out the year.

An es­ti­mated R12-mil­lion would be needed, “but if we work to­gether this can be re­alised. If the mu­nic­i­pal­ity does it alone, it will take about three years to re­alise this dream.”

Pic­ture: ZOLILE MENZELWA

VINE TIME: Inkosi Chardon­nay and Pino­tage made of grapes pro­duced in Shiloh, Whit­tle­sea have hit the shelves of shops with, from left, May­ime Pri­mary Agri­cul­tural Co­op­er­a­tive chair­man Sel­borne Ce­cane and Chris Hani Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity act­ing ex­ec­u­tive mayor Mtethun­z­ima Jack in the vine­yard on Wed­nes­day

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