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Nestlé and Makhoba Community unveil sustainable community development partnership

Makhoba Farm is home to Nestlé’s largest black-owned dairy supplier in South Africa. Nestlé East and Southern African Region (ESAR) and the Makhoba Mzabane Trust are proud to share the progress from their sustainable community development partnership. Nestlé has been working with the Makhoba community since 2008, and the partnership has grown to become an exemplary sustainable community development model. The initiative, called the Makhoba Project, is a pilot project that brings to life Nestlé’s creating an approach of shared value, by working within communities to realise enabled and empowered African livelihoods. This model integrates youth skills development, employment and employability, agripreneurship, regenerative agriculture, sustainability, and local sourcing.


Makhoba Farm spans to 000 hectares and is owned through the Mzabane Makhoba Trust, representing 1 400 beneficiary families situated in Swartberg, between Kokstad and Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal. Since 2008, Nestle has procured milk from the Springfontein Dairy Farm, Makhoba Farm’s dairy operation. The Makhoba Project was born in2017, when Nestle initiated the youth employment service (YES) programme assisting with youth skills development and offering support to the dairy operation. The partnership extended to include support in improving efficiencies and driVing sustainability at Springfontein Dairy Farm and within the community.


In the YES programme, 300 youth have been trained to date, 50% of whom are women. Now in its fourth year, there are a further 100 youth in the programme. There are 35 graduates permanently employed as a direct result of the YES programme.

The balance of the 300 graduates have found jobs in the Swartberg community due to their enhanced skills and training. A select number of students are being mentored and coached under the tutelage of the current general manager of the dairy, as part of the dairy’s succession planning.


Today, Springfontein Dairy is Nestlé’s largest black-owned supplier of milk in South Africa. with 11 000 litres of milk produced daily. Coming from twelve employees in 2008 to 33 employees in 2022, the growth of the dairy business has been exponential. The dairy farm envisions becoming a centre of excellence for regenerative agriculture. its success is one of the key factors of Makhoba Farm’s growth and scale into other areas of the agricultural industry.


“Creating shared value is fundamental to the way we do business and the Makhoba Project is our purpose in action. Springfontein Dairy Farm has continued to deliver proof points of how enabling and empowering communities creates inclusive success in the short and long term. Connecting our various commitments across our business has been at the heart of the implementation of this community development ecosystem. And doing all these in a sustainable manner ensures that not only do we do right by the planet today. but we do so for generations to come”, said Saint-Francis Tohlang, corporate communications and public affairs director at Nestle ESAR.


Complementing the agripreneurshipare regenerative agriculture practices that have been adopted at Springfontein Dairy as part of Nestlé’s sustainability programme. With learnings from Skimmelkrans Farm, Nestlé’s pilot project to create Africa’s first net zero dairy farm in George, various interventions have been implemented to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint. These practices improve milk quality and production. and they include soil management, water conservation, feed management, black wattle control, manure processing. and a 77 kW solar energy system. Springfontein Dairy has a target to be net zero by 2025.


Speaking on the impact of the Makhoba Project, chief Ambrose Makhoba, leader of the Makhoba community said. ”Our community and farm have benefited greatly from this partnership with Nestlé. Everything in this partnership is connected, from the youth skills development to the dairy farm and the sustainability practices. Through the YES Programme, our youth have been trained and we have seen the impact in their lives. The kind of work we continue to achieve through this partnership is helping to preserve the legacy of our [and for our beneficiary families and our country.”


The Makhoba Project has brought to light other opportunities that have been key to the progression of the Makhoba community. The black wattle project is one such example, leading with setting up and running of a species-control activity for the water-intensive invasive species, black wattle. This activity contributes to water conservation in the region, which has a material impact on the entire Makhoba Farm. “Our approach to community development has been refined over years in partnership with the Makhoba community. To date, Nestlé has contributed R55 million to the Makhoba Project. and the impact on the livelihoods of the people of Makhoba has been testament to the power of partnership. We are pleased and proud to be a catalyst for positive change, added Tohlang.

Publication: The Dairy Mail