The Walda Sugar Cane initiative, located in Eastern Mpumalanga was one of the first agricultural incubators to be created by a private company, Agriwiz. The initiative currently comprises 30 farmers, each with approximately 10 Ha (100 000m2) farms. Since teaming up with Seda, Agriwiz has commenced with the SESUCI project, which will be incorporated into the Walda Initiative.
Sugar cane yields from the initiatives' farmers currently exceed the large-scale agricultural farmers average yields by 70%, and the industry average by 149%. The Sugar Cane incubator offers an ideal case study for agricultural incubation in that production records for all 75 farmers within the development are available, and one third of the farmers were subsequently incorporated into the sugar cane initiative in 2004.
The challenge in agriculture today is that there is simply not enough expertise or the resources available to pay for them in SMME agriculture. The members of the Sugar Cane Incubator have risen to this challenge and have developed a prototype software and technology package that utilises cellular and (in the near future satellite) technology to interface, monitor and manage all aspects of the SMME agri-business. The utilisation of this technology platform will permit a small group of agricultural experts to service large numbers of farmers with the services required to remain competitive in the new agricultural environment. The ability to service large numbers of farmers will bring the economics of scale into play and permit the cost-effective dissemination of expertise to agricultural SMMEs. The members of the Sugar Cane Incubator are currently sourcing funding to complete the prototype technology platform and test it on a group of SMME farmers.
The centre has three key objectives at present that can be summarised as follows:
- Producing sustainable PDI agricultural SMME's
- Incorporating fully the principles of Black Economic Empowerment and capacity building
- Ensuring sustainable agricultural land distribution
To develop internationally competitive PDI entrepreneurs in the South African agricultural industry through the process of Agricultural Business Incubation.
To provide the opportunity for PDI entrepreneurs to become owners of a piece of South Africa, and of an internationally competitive agricultural business. This goal will be obtained through the mechanism of business and entrepreneur incubation. Incubation will include the following:
- Facilitation of acquisition of land and loan finance
- Supply of cutting edge technology and technology packaging
- Use of franchise systematics to ensure that people with disadvantaged educations can manage complex agricultural businesses
- Mentorship and training in: - Production technology - Production systems - Life training - Finance and administration - Labour - Business management
- Expansion of businesses