Currently, 83 of these 167 farmers have benefited from the biofuel initiative. The remaining 84 will be included by the end of 2009. Some of these farmers have been involved in traditional farming producing crops such maize and sugarcane before joining the biofuel initiative.
Aimed at supplying 60 000 tons of soybeans in support of the current biofuels initiative towards the production of bio-diesel, Sipulazi Biofuel Cooperative has already achieved outstanding results in the first year of its inception through its involvement of over one hundred farmers in the area.
The project is negotiating with the Department of Agriculture to look at ways of expanding to other parts of the Mpumalanga province and has received R1 922 860 from the National Development Agency (NDA) to fund its start-up.
“Initiatives like these encourage South Africans to move forward, not only to do something for themselves, but ensuring that a sustainable way of life is established for future generations through responsible production,” says Nimrod Mbele, NDA Mpumalanga Provincial Manager.
In a 2006 Renewable Energy Technology report by Eugene Visagie and Gisela Prasad, biodiesel is cited as having the potential to key areas of development in South Africa, namely, the reduction of green gasses, job creation, economic development in disadvantaged rural communities and energy security, especially with regard to the continued rise in oil prices.
Started in 2008 by beneficiaries of Land Reform, Sipulazi Biofuel Cooperative offers a way to enable job creation and environmental sustainability in Mpumalanga.
To date, farmers have received training on the efficient use of land, the soya beans production chain: from planting to harvest, understanding the type of beans planted and the suitability of the soil.
The training has enabled beneficiaries to look at other business opportunities. They have opened up a business that sells feed to chicken, cow and pig breeders and a piggery that gets the feed from the project, keeping feeding costs low.
Other partners involved are the Dept of Agriculture and the SA Renaissance Farmers Trust who will partner with the project in the production of bio-diesel.
Farmers will also receive 10% worth of shares from the diesel sold as well as profit made from the beans sold. In terms of the current market price, the project will be selling the beans at R2 800 per ton and this price is likely to increase based on market demand.