Development financier the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) is confident that, through its partnerships with key financial, government and development institutions, it can develop substantial economic growth, create jobs and build a firm foundation for projects that are delivering returns.
The ECDC and global confectionary giant Ferrero Group have launched a 30 ha hazelnut pilot project near Queenstown. The plantation is the largest in Africa with 16 500 trees, and forms part of Ferrero Group’s new agricultural development programme to ensure that South Africa creates a supply of high-quality nuts for its products.
The ECDC has contributed R1-million to the project and, based on its results, it will be decided whether the area is suitable for the commercialisation of a 10 000 ha hazelnut plantation or not.
The development financier is also at the forefront of revitalising the province’s pineapple industry by establishing a fibre hub. The hub is funded by a Land Bank loan of R15-million and includes the dietry- fibre extraction project, which is now fully commercialised, with its factory in East London.
The ECDC has a 15% equity stake in the project, in which it invested R1.5-million for research, product development and the pilot run.
The development financier secured R79-million from third-party funders in the 2011/12 financial year, which has saved and created jobs and boosted economic growth in the rural areas.
The ECDC has provided project management and extra funding for a cassava-growing project to set up a factory to produce industrial starch at an ECDC factory in Mthatha.
The project has two trial sites of 5 ha each in the OR Tambo district, which have been successfully cultivated and commercialisation is expected next year. The R49-million loan request has been sent to the National Empowerment Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
The ECDC has also made significant progress in its funding of bamboo initiatives, which include securing R3-million to plant more than 110 ha.
The IDC has completed a high-level business plan, which outlines opportunities to grow bamboo, and has begun the drafting of the Bamboo Industry Developmental Plan to develop the South African bamboo industry.