Millions of rands have been set aside to build silos in the Eastern Cape in South Africa as part of a cropping project that will create job opportunities in areas such as milling and animal feed.
Rural development agency AsgiSA Eastern Cape (EC) has allocated R7 million (€616,000) for the construction of silos at strategic sites in the Transkei, which will be accompanied by milling plants.
The milling plants will produce maize meal and crushed maize as part of AsgiSA EC’s integrated dry-land cropping programme.
AsgiSA EC, which recently completed its first harvest with almost 18 000 tonnes of maize being harvested, expects its silo sites to be ready for its second maize harvest in 2010.
This year, AsgiSA EC expected to double its harvest, as the size of land that they were cultivating has almost doubled from 6,700 hectares to 12,000ha.
Project manager Thukela Mashologu explained that the building of the silos was the start of an ambitious plan to bring much-needed investments to the Transkei.
“Maize is the staple food for the province’s rural communities and accounts for nearly 95% of the crops planted in AsgiSA EC’s dry-land cropping programme. Other crops planted on a small scale are beans, soybeans and sunflowers.”
Extend to animal feed production
Mashologu said animal feed production was another viable downstream investment prospect being explored by AsgiSA EC. “This will add value to the organisation’s livestock project,” he said.
According to the South African Grain Information Services (Sagis), there are more than 190 maize millers in the country, with the Sasko Mill plant in Port Elizabeth being the only large-scale milling plant in the Eastern Cape.
“The current market conditions, particularly with maize production, create an opportunity to improve the competitiveness of our produce.
“Storage facilities will also help us sell our produce in intervals and therefore ensure we get a fair price,” said Mashologu.
Although initial plans are under review, AsgiSA EC plans to plant 100,000ha of different dry-land crops (mostly maize) in the rural Transkei over the next five years, expanding this to 500,000ha by 2032.