22 August 2021
Embargo: For Immediate Release
RE: COMMUNITY CALLS FOR THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE INTERVENTION TO SAVE NTINGWE TEA ESTATE
Impoverished communities in the deep rural villages of Inkandla have made an impassioned plea to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to intervene to save Ntingwe Tea Estate from collapsing.
The tea estate, which is funded by the provincial department of Agriculture and Rural Development and managed by its entity Agri-Development Agency (ADA), is an economic lifeline to the people of Inkandla where it provides employment to hundreds of labourers and seasonal workers.
On Saturday, the Portfolio Committee, led by Chairperson Honourable Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, visited the estate as part of its oversight work over the provincial department of Agriculture and Rural Development and its entity (ADA).
Sibhidla-Saphetha was accompanied by other members of the Portfolio Committee including Honourable Sthembiso Mshengu and Honourable Super Zuma who is also the legislature’s Chief Whip.
They met the senior management from the provincial department of agriculture and rural development, ADA, estate’s board, Inkandla Municipality Speaker and other stakeholders.
The committee resolved to call an urgent meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development to discuss challenges facing Ntingwe Tea Estate. This is because Ithala Bank, which is an entity of the provincial department Economic Development, is also a shareholder to Ntingwe Tea Estate.
According to the presentation made to the committee by ADA during Saturday’s oversight visit the challenges that have grounded operations at Ntingwe Tea Estate include the following:
- High Production Costs – due mainly to the labour intensive nature of tea production;
- Global Competition – flood of cheap imported tea and rising global food safety and environmental standards
- Low Global Market Prices – this has been exacerbated by the increase in global tea supply
- Dominance of tea packers – multinational giants dictate pricing
Operations of the estate have almost collapsed to such an extent that in the last three years it has only been harvesting a fraction of the 400-hectare estate and the resignation of the estate manager has also dealt the facility a huge blow.
The Estate consists of about 400 hectares of clonal tea and could produce high quality black and green tea.
Sibhidla-Saphetha said the joint portfolio committees will explore a number of avenues to save the facility.
“This facility is very important to the people of this area and has a potential to play a massive role in fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality. It employs a number of people and the majority of those are women and young people,” said Sibhidla Saphetha.
For more information please contact Wonder Hlongwa at 0829083532