Johannesburg - The Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed by villagers in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape to fight plans to mine titanium, has held a successful meeting with agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana, community spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma said on Friday.
Mbuthuma said the meeting with Zokwana was attended by some 600 people in Sigidi village and was amicable in stark contrast with visits by resources minister Gwede Mantashe in January and last September.
The community has been at loggerheads with the mineral resources department over the last 15 years due to its opposition to the issuance of a titanium mining license to Transworld Energy and Minerals, a subsidiary of Australia's MRC.
At the meeting with Zokwana, the Agricultural Research Council explained its role and outlined how it could help the community by testing soil, among other services.
Mbuthuma said community members had an opportunity to ask questions, with Zokwana addressing concerns and undertaking to offer practical support.
"Among these (undertakings) is support for community owned tractors, coastal guards to stop boats coming from afar to steal fish and help with direct marketing of cray fish," Mbuthuma said.
"The coastal households lose tens of thousands of rand every year to middle men when renting tractors and selling cray fish."
The agriculture department said the community had expressed its willingness to be assisted with small-scale fishing and with commercialising its agricultural activities.
Zokwana said the department had already issued fishing rights to cooperatives and would also pilot the establishment of macadamia nuts plantations for commercial purposes and develop a comprehensive agricultural plan for the Amadiba community.
Mbuthuma said all this would turn Xolobeni into an agriculture hub, with the community processing and packaging its crop and fish produce.
African News Agency/ANA