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Media Release: Minister of Rural Development launches Mayibuye Compost Project

06 November 2009

Addo, Eastern Cape: Today the Minister of Rural Development, Gugile Nkwinti, officially launched the Mayibuye Compost Project, a community venture aimed at providing employment to local people and enhancing the natural environment while producing top quality organic compost.

An amount of R6.7 million has been injected into the project, R4.7 million of which has been provided by the government through the European Union. A further 2 million is funded by the Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC).

The compost project promises to employ 50 previously unemployed people from local communities surrounding the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the population experiences an unemployment rate of up to 90% with 80% of the population only being seasonally employed for 6 months of the year by the citrus industry. As demand for the high quality organic compost grows, Mayibuye hopes to see the employment figures grow.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Rural Development said, “We must place this compost project in its proper context in terms of global warming and climate change, and this should be a focal point in marketing and branding the final product”.

The Minister said that the Mayibuye Compost Project should be seen as a sustainable business venture and not as a project with a fixed end date, adding that he would act as an ambassador of this venture.

Apart from employment of local people, the compost production project aims to address environmental concerns about invasive alien plants, particularly in the Sundays River system, which flows through the Addo Elephant National Park and Sundays River Valley.

Harvesting of invasive reeds from the Sundays River will be the first course of action to produce compost. Later compost will be produced by harvesting other alien invasive plants in national park and surrounds, as well as old redundant citrus orchards and wind breaks. The top quality compost will be purchased by citrus and vegetable farmers in the area.

The Mayibuye Ndlovu Development Trust (MNDT) was established in 1993 as a forum to plan and implement conservation-based community development projects in the communities living in and around the Addo Elephant National Park. With the active support of the South African National Parks (SANParks), MNDT aims to enhance the capacity and well-being of its local people and promote their sense of ownership of the local assets through the long-term and fair distribution of tangible economic benefits.

The AENP World Bank Expansion project, currently being implemented in the Addo Elephant National Park, has been instrumental in providing mentorship funding and support to transform Mayibuye into a sustainable commercial entity and provide funding for an administrator and coordinator.

MNDT’s first joint project with SANParks was a profit-sharing agreement which sees a percentage of the turnover of the Addo Elephant National Park’s Matyholweni Rest Camp being fed into the trust funds to be used for community projects.

MNDT now manages several community upliftment programmes which include a Student Assistance initiative aimed at enabling previously disadvantage pupils to become part of economic activities by empowering them with tertiary education. MNDT is currently assisting 7 students to study at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. In partnership with the Wilderness Foundation, MNDT is also enabling local community members to venture into new careers within the hospitality, ecotourism and conservation industries through extensive training programmes.

The SRCC, which is the single largest packer and exporter of citrus fruit in the Southern hemisphere, hopes the influx of quality compost will address both environmental concerns and the deteriorating state of productive soil in the Sundays River Valley.

Issued by: South African National Parks

Enquiries: Megan Taplin, Regional Communications Manager, Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra National Parks, tel: (042) 233-8609