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Plaas Media recently travelled to the foothills of the Maluti Mountains to visit a 10 000ha property called Makhoba Farms. This farm is home to Nestlé’s largest black-owned dairy supplier in South Africa (SA). The food giant has been working with the Makhoba community since 2008, and the partnership has grown to become an exemplary sustainable community development model. Makhoba Farms, owned by the Mzabane Makhoba Trust and chaired by Chief Ambrose Makhoba and 16 trustees, benefits 14 000 families.
Makhoba Farms’ community agricultural operations are run by Springfontein Dairy Trust (SDT). Nestlé entered into a supply agreement with Springfontein Dairy in 2008 and had a humble start of 150 cows. Today, SDT is Nestlé’s largest black-owned supplier of milk in SA, with 11 000 litres of milk produced daily by more than 500 cows.
Regenerative agricultural practices have been adopted at Springfontein Dairy as part of Nestlé’s sustainability programme and several interventions have been implemented to reduce this farm’s carbon footprint. Regenerative agriculture focusses on the conservation and rehabilitation of farming systems.
This farming method includes soil management, water conservation, feed management, black wattle control, manure processing and a 77kW solar energy system. These practices have helped a lot to improve milk quality and production.
In 2017, Nestlé initiated the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme with the help of Inyosi Empowerment. Some 300 youth have been trained to date of which 50% are women with different agricultural and agribusiness related skills. Approximately 300 graduates have found jobs in the Swartberg community as a result of this training.
The Nestlé Makhoba Farms project is a great example of land restitution, community development and corporate partnership. This community and the farm are milking the results of their hard labour, dedication and perseverance. – Yolandé Roodt, AgriOrbit