The first phase of the Murrimo Macadamia project near Gurue in Mozambique has been completed, with 300 hectares of macadamia orchards planted and 550 hectares developed for irrigated and dry land cropping. The first commercial yields from four-year old orchards are expected in March 2017. The macadamia trees are growing exceptionally well and we expect good early yields. The annual crops (maize and beans) have proved more difficult in the high rainfall environment, but we are steadily developing appropriate production techniques. We believe that these crops offer good potential for downstream processing, including the production from local small farmers.
Land has been acquired in southern Mozambique for the establishment of a 300 hectare banana project in partnership with Silverlands Mozambique. The project will supply the South African market through Lebombo Growers in which the group has a 27% shareholding. The project offers the prospect of better yields than the group’s existing Komati banana operations as well as lower production costs, resulting in excellent potential returns. It is currently expected that the project will cost R117 million to develop over a three-year period.
Renishaw Property Development
After many years of analysis and endeavour, final approval has been granted for the development of the Renishaw property for commercial, industrial and residential development. Of the total area of some 1 800 hectares, 1 400 hectare has been approved for rezoning, but only 350 hectares is actually developable, the balance comprising wetlands, coastal forests or areas too steep for development. The first major project will be tackled i n the 2017 financial year, comprising the development of a lifestyle village (“Renishaw Hills”), ultimately planned for over 500 units, and associated infrastructure over a minimum five-year period. Substantial interest has been shown by potential buyers with first phase units planned for sale from August 2016.
Mawewe Community Joint Venture
During the past financial year approximately 1 900 hectare of cultivated land, of the Komati Estate leased by the group from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, was transferred to the Mawewe community. Although the lease still had four years to run, it was decided to relinquish the balance of the group’s rights in favour of a 20-year joint venture to lease and operate the land with the community effective from 1 April 2016. It is anticipated that the balance of the Komati Estate still leased from government, comprising some 600 hectare under cultivation, will be transferred to the community in the short term and also be included in the JV structure. The venture has good potential for expansion, both on the land previously owned by CBL, if additional water rights can be secured, and also on other farms acquired by the community.
The group has an established strategy of continuously upgrading its farms to improve yields and quality to counter rising costs and margin pressure. The banana operation at Komati has achieved spectacular success following an upgrading programme started in 2012. Meaningful yield improvements have also been achieved by converting sugar cane sprinkler and furrow systems to drip irrigation. In this (albeit drought affected) season the drip irrigated fields in Swaziland achieved an average yield of 113 tons per hectare compared with less than 90 tons per hectare on sprinkler and furrow irrigated fields.
The programme for the current year includes the following:
- The conversion of 168 hectare on the Swaziland estate from sprinkler/furrow to drip irrigation.
- The planting of maize/beans as fallow crops on 150 hectares in Swaziland.
- The conversion of 53 hectares of furrow irrigation to drip on the Zambia estate.