Minster of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. File picture

Pretoria - A public/private partnership between government and Nestlé South Africa is set to enhance chicory production in the Eastern Cape and could create 800 jobs in the next four years, trade and industry minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.

Davies was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the department, the Eastern Cape provincial government and Nestlé in Alexandria, 100 kilometres outside of Port Elizabeth.

The “chicory programme” is meant to urge local farmers to grow chicory and supply it to Nestlé for use in the company’s manufacturing of Ricoffy - the popular South African coffee brand.

Chicory is a caffeine free herb which is baked, ground and used as a coffee substitute and additive.

“This development in the chicory industry within the pronouncement of the National Development Plan and the nine point agro-processing programme that the President announced during his State-of-the-Nation address earlier on this year, which has set a target of 1 million jobs for the agriculture and the agro-processing sector,” said Davies.

Davies said emerging farmers and chicory producers should recover agricultural land in the province and create much needed permanent jobs.

Nestlé’s Ravi Pillay said the company would provide technical support to ensure farmers in both the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal grew high qualify chicory which would meet their requirements.