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SPEECH BY MEC FOR LEDET, MR. SEAPARO SEKOATI, AT THE OCCASION OF THE MEDIA LAUNCH OF THE 14TH EDITION OF LIMPOPO MARULA FESTIVAL AT PHALALA BOUTIQUE GAME LODGE AND SPA

January 18, 2019

·        Executive Mayor – Waterberg District Municipality

·        Mayor of Lephalale Municipality

·        Mayor of Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality

·        All other Councilors present

·        HOD – LEDET

·        Chairpersons of Boards of Parastatals

·        CEOS’ of Parastatals (LTA, LGB and LEDA)

·        DDG’s and MM’s

·        Members of the Media

·        Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening.

We are gathered here once again at the dawn of 2019, to commemorate the year that promises much in terms of our agricultural produce that includes the abundance of our natural fruit, “The Marula Fruit” commonly known as the “Elephant Fruit”.

Program Director, you have already alluded the reason why we have gathered here this evening, which is to unveil our plans for the 14th edition of the Limpopo Marula festival and we all know the heritage significance brought by the Marula season. 

Allow me to take this opportunity to commend Lephalale Municipality as well as Waterberg District Municipality for hosting the 14th Edition of the Limpopo Marula festival, a sequel to thirteen other festivals since 2006 and every year the event attracts more and more people from various corners of the country and our SADC partners. 

The Limpopo Annual Marula Festival is an annual opportunity to remind ourselves as well as the South African population that the wealth of the people lay within their respective communities, the wealth of the people lay within their land.

Program Director, as you know, LEDET through the support of the Provincial EXCO, took a conscious decision not only to host an annual festival with no long term economic benefits but to develop a sustainable industry out of this wild fruit for the primary objectives of addressing the triple challenges of inequality, Poverty and Unemployment. Today the Limpopo Marula Festival contribute in excess of R45 million to the local economy of Ba-Phalaborwa and the Mopani District through general trade and also generate more than 500 job opportunities to the local communities, a figure that should be doubled in the next 3 years. Credit to the Limpopo Tourism Agency and the Tourism Industry’s efforts to continue to utilize the event to attract scores of domestic, regional and international tourists to Limpopo.

The Morula Tree falls within species that are protected by our environmental laws and as such we are partnering with both the Department of Environmental Affairs and South African National Parks to ensure the sustenance of this valuable species. We will use the various platforms to raise awareness to our beneficiaries who are our communities to discourage deforestation which also contributes to the devastations of climate change. We need to encourage reforestation of communities with Morula trees that requires protection to mitigate climate change whilst creating long term beneficiations for local communities.

Last year we announced the development of the Limpopo Marula Hub as a Marula Industrial Park where various Marula products will be produced in terms of the market demands and serve as the new home of the annual Limpopo Marula Festival. Our Parastatal responsible for the Industry development, LEDA has commenced with all the plans to get the place ready for 2020 annual event.

This is a major breakthrough for our rural communities that every year derives benefits from the sale of this magnificent wild fruit. Finally, we will commence with the projected all year round beneficiation out of the fruit in terms of pulping for juice and other products identified through research and also to prolong the shelve life of this seasonal tree.

Today we are proud to introduce a young man from a small village called Vianna, situated on the outskirts of Blouberg Municipality who out of the research undertaken by the department on the various products that can be developed out of Marula, has takena business decision to invest resources in growing his industry to accommodate bottling and distributing of fresh Marula Juice. The young man is here with us today (Sephakhu Raboshakga) He is now joining the likes of Rakhuma Trust together with the 14 registered Co-operatives who continues to benefit out of this industry.

Currently, more than 1500 Rural Women derive direct and indirect benefits from the seasonal Marula activities between January and March every year around all Districts of the Province when taking into account the harvesting activities and supply to Distell, a partner that we are constantly engaging to assist the province in the sustenance of this Industry.

We have indicated previously and still reiterate that we will not relent until the living standard of our people in the province has improved. We are still prepared to have other cooperatives registered and their members trained because cooperatives have shown to be the catalysts of development in a number of societies the world over. We want to congratulate our Parastatal – LEDA on their continued support in the fight against poverty through the development and support of the 14 registered cooperatives and for sustaining them over the years until the dawn of the “Limpopo Marula Hub”. 

The 14th Limpopo Annual Marula Festival will continue being a deliberate effort by the department to support and invest in small community based businesses. I therefore, urge public officials, executives from the Private sector, Traditional Authorities, members of the public and most importantly those visiting the province to support small business initiatives. 

We therefore hope that the people of South Africa, SADC region, and other international guests will warmly embrace and continue to support efforts made by the Limpopo government through programmes such as this, which aims to alleviate poverty by embracing culture, diversity and heritage.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are very pleased with the social advances we have made through this festival because during the month of February not only is the town of Phalaborwa that benefits but various Districts of the Province derives economic benefits out of the movement of people who participates at the various festivals of the first fruit heritage phenomenon.

As you know the month of “February” is “Marula Month” in Limpopo, the department through the assistance of the established Films Commission within LEDA, has planned an aggressive campaign to promote this economic beneficiation initiative whilst beneficiating the arts industries.

This year once again we have set aside a considerable amount within the Marula budget to capacitate individuals within the Arts Industries. On the 9th of February 2019 we will be in Vhembe District to create a platform for identification of local talent. The successful groups will be announced and put on the festival Open Air Concert Line-Up in both Youth Festival and the Jazz and Gospel activities. Our Local and Community Radio Stations will also be engaged to run adverts in that regard to make sure that this festival is as inclusive as possible in terms of local content.

To date the festival attracts scores ofdomestic, regional and international tourists and it is anticipated to grow the numbers in the future festivals hence the urgency to develop the Limpopo Marula Industry Hub within the Town of Phalaborwa with a well-developed infrastructure to host in excess of 50 000 festival patrons within the two weekends of the event. 

Economically, such an infrastructure will facilitate long term job opportunities for the locals and the Arts Industries since a lot of industries will be developed around this developed Marula Brand. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2019 festival will be held over a period of two weekends (viz, the last weekend in February and first weekend in March), starting from the 23rd February through to the 3rd March 2019. 

We will of course be entertained by various musicians on both the first and second Saturdays during the open air concerts, however, our main focus will of course be on supporting and showcasing small business initiatives throughout the week.

Programme Director, allow me to unveil our new “Theme” for 2019 Limpopo Annual Marula Festival.  Our new theme for the next five years is “Discover the Wealth of Marula”

In the next five weeks after this media launch, we will be relying on all of you, colleagues from media, to disseminate information to the public about the festival. Our Marketing and Communications Team will also be working closely with you for the purpose of popularizing the event. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for always responding positively to our call for partnership in sharing this unique venture to all South Africans. It is therefore my belief once more that the festival will be the most topical story until the 22nd February 2019 when the provincial event commences.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all our partners and sponsors who came forward to make this launch a success. Our success over the years hinged on the support we received from sponsorships. I am confident that this support will be a continuous feature in our endeavor to develop our society.

The weeklong festivities will include two weekends of open air concerts on 23rd February and 2nd March 2019 and will feature household names to be unveiled as I conclude. Tickets will be available on TICKET PRO from Monday, 21st January 2019 @ R150 – General for both Youth and Jazz and Gospel. 

 

In conclusion, I wish to, once again, plead with music revellers and all those who will be part of these festivities to continue explore our unique tourist products and services around the Province.

# Marula Season is Here”

# Will you be There?”

I thank you.

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