Cooperative farmers with UKZN representatives, Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, Suvina Singh, Siyabonga Gumede, and DTP representative, Nkosinathi Nsele.
UKZN InQubate and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) embarked on a highly strategic project with the Dube TradePort Corporation (DTPC), in the development of one of its business zones, the Dube AgriZone.
The project, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2018, is centered on a market and infrastructure analysis for horticultural products in KwaZulu-Natal. The primary focus of the project is to promote the sustainable commercialization of four horticultural Cooperative farms led and owned by black women and located in three districts in the province, namely iLembe, EThekwini and UMgungundlovu. Crops will range from cut flowers to high value vegetables that can be marketed and sold in the local and international markets.
Another critical aspect of the project is an Enterprise Development (ED) component. UKZN InQubate will be concluding a contract with a qualified emerging entity, black women- and youth-owned, to participate and develop its expertise in this project. The ED entity will benefit from project management development under the guidance of UKZN experts.
A team of experts led by Prof Albert Modi, DVC of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) (Acting), and coordinated by Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, worked with UKZN InQubate tirelessly to produce a competitive proposal that saw UKZN vie against private consultancy firms and other academic institutions and emerge as the appointed service provider in a highly competitive process.
DPTC is known for its extremely stringent procurement systems which are designed to regulate multinationals doing business in the Special Economic Zone. As such, UKZN’s institutional excellence proved to be of world class when subjected to this procurement process.
At UKZN InQubate’s briefing session in the Pietermaritzburg Campus on the identification of the tender, Prof Modi encouraging a full house of CAES academics, saying, “You must participate in this kind of work. It allows our academics and our students to apply their academic training to real world problems. It allows us to sharpen our theoretical delivery.”
UKZN InQubate Director, Ms Suvina Singh, said “We are very excited to have been awarded this project by DTPC due to the significant impact it will have for all its beneficiaries in the community, and because it is aligned with the university’s social cohesion research flagship, which is focused on building capacity, redressing the wrongs of our past, and removing barriers to sustainable development.”
This project has been highly anticipated by many of its beneficiaries. Ms Nonhlanhla Linda of Khonamanje Agricultural Cooperative said “There is hope now. We have been waiting for 8 years for this project.” DTPC is a business entity of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government charged with the responsibility to develop the province’s biggest infrastructural projects.
The Dube AgriZone is Africa’s first integrated perishables supply chain and the most technologically advanced future farming platform on the continent. DTPC targets a priority sector that includes agriculture, agro-processing, horticulture, aquaculture and floriculture.