Pretoria - The farming community outside Butterworth is expecting to harvest a whopping 5 000 tons of maize this season - a 200 percent improvement from last year.
The harvest forms part of AsgiSA (Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative) Eastern Cape's integrated dry-land cropping programme which has expanded over the same period.
Project manager Thukela Mashologu said some 300 households were benefiting from the projects in the Butterworth area alone.
The current maize and soya bean plantation is about 2 000 hectares up from 800 hectares planted last year.
The communities expect a yield of about 5 tons of maize per hectare and 1.7 tons of soya beans per hectare this season.
"It's a 200 percent improvement from last year. The community will receive 10 percent of the total harvest. The rest of the harvest (90 percent) is sold and the money is used to repay production costs and for reinvestment back to the community," said Mashologu.
AsgiSA provincial Chief Executive Officer Simpiwe Somdyala said the plantation projects were not just money making schemes. The project's success depends not only on generating cash but primarily on active local leadership, community support and participation.
"Food security is our primary focus, in about a year the community will not have to buy maize again. Ninety percent of production next year will be linked to reinvestment back to the community," Somdyala said.
Gibson Mbombo, Secretary of the Kulozulu Farmers Association who represents the beneficiaries in the area said the project is performing beyond their expectations.
"We are satisfied with the way the plantation and germination is going. The weather also seems to be on our side," Mbombo said, adding that they were expecting a good harvest this year.
The plantations which consist mainly of maize are situated in 11 local municipalities in the former Transkei stretching from Butterworth to Matatiele.
AsgiSA has also committed over R100 million to the expansion of the project this year, which covers OR Tambo, Chris Hani, Ukhahlamba, Amathole and Alfred Nzo municipal districts.