UKZN InQubate and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) are about to embark on a highly strategic project with the Dube TradePort Corporation (DTPC), in association with one of its business zones, the Dube AgriZone, Africa’s first integrated perishables supply chain and the most technologically advanced future farming platform on the continent.
The project is centred on a market and infrastructure analysis for horticultural products in KwaZulu-Natal. The primary focus of the project is to promote the sustainable commercialisation of four horticultural Cooperative farms led and owned by Black women and located in three districts in the province, namely iLembe, eThekwini and uMgungundlovu. Crops will range from cut flowers to high value vegetables that can be marketed and sold in the local and international markets.
A critical aspect of the project is an Enterprise Development (ED) component, in which UKZN InQubate will conclude a contract with a qualified emerging entity, Black women and youth-owned, to participate and develop its expertise in this project. The ED entity will benefit from project management development under the guidance of UKZN experts.
A UKZN team led by the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES), Professor Albert Modi, and co-ordinated by Research Fellow Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, worked with UKZN InQubate to produce a competitive proposal that saw the University compete against private consultancy firms and other academic institutions to emerge as the appointed service provider in what was a highly competitive process. DTPC is known for its extremely stringent procurement systems which are designed to regulate multinationals doing business in the Special Economic Zone. UKZN’s institutional excellence proved to be world class when subjected to the procurement process.
DTPC is a business entity of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government charged with the responsibility of developing the province’s biggest infrastructural projects. DTPC targets a priority sector that includes agriculture, agro-processing, horticulture, aquaculture and floriculture and is known for its extremely stringent procurement systems which are designed to regulate multinationals doing business in the Special Economic Zone.
Speaking at an InQubate briefing session on the Pietermaritzburg campus upon the identification of the tender, Modi said, ‘We need to participate in this kind of work. It allows our academics and our students to apply their academic training to real world problems, enabling us to sharpen our theoretical delivery.’
‘We are very excited to have been awarded this project as it will have significant impact for beneficiaries in the community and also because it is aligned with the University’s social cohesion research flagship which is focused on building capacity, redressing the wrongs of our past, and removing barriers to sustainable development,’ added Ms Suvina Singh, UKZN InQubate Director.
UKZN InQubate is a department of the Research Division. It focuses on the development of the University’s intellectual property in ways that benefit society and progress the economy; student entrepreneurship; and building relationships between the University academic experts and industry in order to address challenges faced by industry through its consultancy programme.
Words and photograph: Siyabonga Gumede