Sasol: cedes 285 hectares of agricultural land to the government

Secunda, Mpumalanga – Sasol has donated 285 hectares of farmland to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to support the development of emerging farmers. Minister Thoko Didiza officiated the handover this morning in Secunda, Mpumalanga, before handing over the land to the provincial branch of the Department.

Executive Vice President: Human Resources and Stakeholder Relations at Sasol, Charlotte Mokoena, said the decision to bestow Esperanza on DALRRD, under the auspices of a 99-year lease, is informed by Sasol’s vision of a just transition by increasing shared value through the development of key sectors of economic growth, such as agriculture.

“We see Sasol’s Just Transition vision as a shared value proposition that will come to life through the inclusive transformation of our business, our people and our society,” Mokoena said. “This is in line with our core value of care, which we demonstrate by caring deeply for our people, our planet and our communities.”

Sasol acquired the Esperanza farm in 1980 and used it primarily for the establishment of the Sasol Secunda factory site. The land was later used by Esperanza Trust to promote vegetable and chicken farming by community members before being leased to the Municipality of Govan Mbeki after the Trust was dissolved. Part of it is currently used for agricultural and manufacturing activities.

Speaking at the handover, Minister Didiza said: She would like to congratulate Sasol for this program. “What is important is the approach of this program, you could have given these young people the piece of land and disappeared, but you also trained them and gave them starter kits which are the necessary skills which they need”

The Minister also commended Sasol for being a responsible corporate citizen that is in touch with its community. Sasol is a corporate citizen that seeks to address challenges in its communities.

Sasol will continue to have access to the farm to further accelerate its Iphepe Emerging Farmer Development Program, which has so far benefited over 300 emerging farmers in the Gert Sibande district of Mpumalanga.

Last year, the program produced 85 emerging farmers who received training at the Buhle Farmers’ Academy. Another 88 farmers are to complete their training this year. These emerging farmers will receive business starter kits, mentorship and market access to grow and prosper their businesses.

Mokoena said Iphepe is part of Sasol’s Bridge to Work (BtW), which is a portfolio of programs aimed at improving access to economic opportunities for unemployed youth, women and adults in its gated communities in Mpumalnga, Free State, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. This by providing vocational training and skills development in agriculture, auto mechanics, welding, technology and digital development, among others.

“We had to reconfigure our portfolio of projects to focus on vocational training aligned with the needs and opportunities identified by our closing communities, social research and local government,” explained Mokoena. “These growth accelerator projects, hosted under the Bridge to Work program, will enable those we target to access meaningful work opportunities that can be converted into small businesses through curated development opportunities.”

Other programs under BtW include:

  • Community welding aimed at creating skilled welders who are equipped to achieve the level of skill required for new and existing projects in Mpumalanga and Free State;
  • DIY services create jobs for young unemployed people and unqualified school do-it-yourselfers;
  • Engine mechanics produce certified automotive mechanics, who will contribute to the automotive industry and be positioned to enter the renewable energy vehicle industry;
  • Enterprise Technology Program help young people in our communities gain skills in applied technology to create scalable start-ups and sustainable digital SMEs that are relevant to their community; and
  • Community service program where the unemployed will be mobilized to become active citizens of the country’s democracy, while earning an income and increasing their employability.

These will be implemented in partnership with Buhle Farmers’ Academy, Afrox, Automotive Industry Development Center (AIDC), Aurex and Gert Sibande TVET College. Other strategic partners are Productivity SA, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Small Business Development Agency (SEDA).

Sasol will embark on a tour before the end of the year, visiting communities to publicize these programs and recruit interested people.

For more information about BtW and available opportunities, people can visit: https://society.sasol.com/bridge-to-work/

Amalia H. Mercado