Official Farm Opening
President Masisi and his wife, the First Lady of Botswana, opened Selebi Phikwe Citrus farm with an official ground-breaking ceremony on 11 December 2020.
Due to Covid regulations, this was a small affair of just 50 people, which included the following role players in the project:
- President Masisi and the first lady of Botswana
- SPEDU (facilitates inward investment and economic diversification in the region)
- BITC (Botswana Investment & Trade Center)
- Dr. Bernard Mosimanyana (Chairman Mmadinare Cooperative)
- Department of Agriculture
- WUC (Water Utility Company)
- BPC (Botswana Power Corporation)
EIA approval was received on the 7th of November, and bush clearing commenced on the 9th of November 2020.
On November 23, 2020, the fencing material was delivered, marking a crucial milestone in our project. With dedication and hard work, we have successfully cleared 17,130 meters of bush around the farm fence.
The storage yard is cleared, and fencing was completed on the 28th of December 2020. The yard is used to store:
- Heavy machinery used for soil preparation
- Main pipeline
- SHARPS material (electrical)
- Irrigation equipment
We have made significant progress in farm fencing, with completion at 50% (Corners A/D 4 023m and A/B 3 784m). Security personnel are now hired for night surveillance of the site and offices. The remaining farm fencing is expected to be finished by 2nd March 2021. We have already acquired all the necessary tools, small machinery, and fencing materials for our operations in Botswana.
Starting on November 9th, we embarked on the bush clearing of the main pipeline, covering a distance of 9600m to reach SPC Farm. The delivery of the main pipeline pipes, including 500mm class 12 and class 9, has already taken place. We eagerly await the arrival of the class 6 pipes on January 26, 2021. For offloading the pipes, DHK Transport, with its reliable crane, has been entrusted with the task. Additionally, DHK Transport assists us with concrete and sand deliveries as needed.
We have successfully completed all material orders for the pipeline, with a 90% delivery rate from Flotek in Botswana, Flotek in South Africa, Seven Star, Mr. Wong, and Datha Irrigation in South Africa. By January 23, 2021, we anticipate the completion of the main pipeline to the SPC gate, along with the air valve and the three crucial crossings for road and rail. Simultaneously, we are diligently working on finalizing the structure of the main pumphouse. The installation of pumps and the laying of pipes are scheduled to commence by the end of January 2021.
Orchards and Irrigation
We successfully cleared blocks H & I, covering 145ha, and are currently working on blocks A & B, estimated to be finished by 5 February 2021. Our bulldozer, Cat D85, ripped through blocks H & I and will tackle the ridges by the end of January 2021. We have completed all orders for irrigation and equipment for planting the first orchards in blocks H and I, with deliveries 90% complete by 15 February 2020. Planting begins on block H on 22 February 2021, followed by block I and block A for lemons (48ha) on 4 May 2021.
At present, our team operates a fleet of machinery, including four wheel dozers, four excavators, and 2 ADT trucks, all of which have been hired for specific project sites. Additionally, we recently acquired four John Deere tractors from Afgri Botswana, which were delivered on 18 November. These tractors will play a crucial role in transporting materials using the 12 picking trailers we purchased.
To further support our operations, we have also invested in 2 JCB machines from Afgri Botswana. These machines will assist in pipeline excavation and backfilling once the pipeline construction is complete. Furthermore, our new excavator, procured from Part Sales Botswana, is currently engaged in laying the 500mm pipes along the main pipeline route, stretching from the gate to dam 2.
- Our first supply of diesel has arrived from Kwa Nokeng Oil on 16 November, and we estimate usage of about 20 000lt/month.
- A second diesel tank of 23000lt will be put up on SPC farm by the end of January 2021.
- BPC awarded the tender to Charlton Electrical to put up the mainline from town to SPC Farm. Charlton has just started with the erection of the main electrical poles from Selebi Phikwe town to the farm.
- We will be using Sharps Electrical Botswana for the articulation on the farm. Phase 1 will start on 30 November and will be finished by the end of February 2021.
- The electrical poles on the farm have been erected and connected with cable. Sharps is currently busy with the last stretch of 915m, and they also installed the electricity meter on the farm this week.
- We are currently busy building the switch room for the farm’s electrical supply.
On Friday 13 November, Ms. Gontse from the Department of Labour approved the employee contract, marking a significant milestone. Currently, we have contracted 66 employees for fencing, building, and pipeline work, and we anticipate hiring an additional 20–30 employees by the end of February. Our future plans include comprehensive training programs covering first aid, health and safety, tractor operations, firefighting, safety officers, chainsaw operations, productivity, and HIV/AIDS mitigation. We have also appointed and trained a dedicated SHE officer. As we continue to grow, our goal is to employ around 250–300 people on the farm within the next 18 months to 3 years.