The Timbali Technology Incubator is situated in the Mbombela Region of Mpumalanga. The Lowveld region is ideally suited for the production of a number of flower crops, but despite the climatic and infrastructure advantages, the floriculture industry has remained a fledgling industry in Mpumalanga. Timbali was initiated to create a centre for the establishment and support of emerging farmers in the cut flower industry.
A new flower grower however faces many challenges upon entering the viciously competitive flower market. A good understanding of the flower trade, skill, knowledge and experience in flower growing, is essential in an industry where quality is non-negotiable. Timbali has developed a unique concept that ensures that a high volume of good quality cut flowers can be produced for both the local and export markets.
Currently, Timbali clients are cultivating a variety of cut flowers. One of the crops, the famous Gerbera, was chosen for its unique adaptability to the region and its high value on the market. The growers at Timbali possibly represent the largest Gerbera cut-flower project in Africa and it is estimated that over a 2 million flowers are produced annually. Other cut flowers grown include the difficult to grow Lisianthus, heavenly scented stocks, as well as the old time favourites Snaps, Delphinium and Sweet Williams and a variety of agricultural crops and products. The Cluster development can also be described as one of the larger hydroponic production units in the country and represents a major development in floriculture in South Africa.
The Timbali Technology Incubator licences the growers to use tried and tested agribusiness models, and also provides start-up and ongoing support throughout the client's participation in the incubation process. The Incubator concentrates on assisting the emerging farmers to overcome market, finance, business and skills barriers to become globally competitive flower farmers.
Flowers produced by Timbali's clients are marketed under the AmaBlom-banner, and thus provides participants with the opportunity to be part of a collective marketing, branding and bulk selling initiative. In return, the client pays a levy on the flowers produced and undertakes to operate the business of flower growing in accordance with the guidelines of Timbali as dictated by international standards. These principles and practices were borrowed from the franchise industry and allow the emerging farmer to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. In this way Timbali aims to minimise the financial risk for both the client and the relevant financial institution.
Currently, Timbali clients are cultivating a variety of cut flowers. One of the crops, the famous Gerbera, was chosen for its unique adaptability to the region and its high value on the market.
The centre has already established five clusters consisting of 30 state-of-the-art greenhouses and an eight hectares open-land development. Timbali specialises in providing novice farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge to competitively enter the mainstream economy. In addition, jobs are created and previously disadvantaged people, especially women, in the Mbombela region are empowered, thereby creating a unique vehicle to assist land distribution in South Africa. Timbali Technology Incubator achieved the prestigious level of recognition at the DTI Technology Awards 2007 as the winner in the category "Most noticeable impact on the local economy", for its contribution in establishing small businesses in the agricultural sector. The center was recognised for the vital role it has played by using technology and innovation in building a sustainable local economy, one business at a time. Timbali is also graduating 20 farmers.
Timbali Technology Incubator - just another facet of the refreshing and optimistic face of today's South Africa.