AGRICULTURE NEWS - The Phalaborwa area of Limpopo – marula country – is set to get a multi-million rand marula hub as the Limpopo provincial government works to take beneficiation of the indigenous fruit beyond the alcohol industry.
The marula fruit is known for its use in the popular Distell-owned Amarula Cream Liqueur. Most of Distell’s marula supply comes from Limpopo, where rural women cultivate the fruit as a means of income.
The new Marula Industrial Hub – complete with processing facilities, a research centre and agri-business support services for rural farmers and small businesses wanting to get into the marula value chain – is scheduled to be up and running next year.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 Marula Festival in Lephalale at the weekend, Limpopo MEC for economic development and tourism Seaparo Sekoati said plans were at an advanced stage, with the hub set to be open in time for the milestone 15th Annual Marula Festival in February 2020.
He told Moneyweb later that the Limpopo Treasury has already allocated R10 million in initial funding for the hub, with further funding from other government departments and agencies also on the cards.
The marula tree, a protected species in SA, grows wild in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal as well as dozens of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural communities have harvested its fruit for centuries.
“More than 1 500 rural women derive direct and indirect benefits from seasonal marula activities between January and March annually in the province,” says Sekoati. “This includes harvesting and supply to Distell, which is a partner the province is constantly engaging for the sustenance of the marula industry.
“Phalaborwa is known as SA’s main marula growing region and we want to leverage off this to boost economic development and further commercialise the fruit for the community’s benefit. The Marula Hub is aimed at unlocking opportunities and the value-chain of the marula fruit. Some 14 co-operatives will be housed at the hub.