Sun Orange Farms (Pty) Ltd was first established by the Hannah family in 1967 in an effort to extend the families existing citrus production operation in Kirkwood to a separate entity in the Sunland area. Sunland and Kirkwood are located in the fertile Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This valley adjoins the well renowned Greater Addo Elephant National Park and is within 80 kilometers of Port Elizabeth. The family was also involved in the building and construction industry at the time. Daisy Jane trust was the sole shareholder of the company. Two properties were owned by the company and later an additional adjoining property was acquired. Citrus development commenced in 1980 at Sun Orange and by 2001 45 hectares of citrus had been established.
The Company Sontule Investments (Pty) Ltd, a 6.5% shareholder in the current Sun Orange Farms, is 80 % owned by Johnny Ferreira one of the two operating partners in Sun Orange Farms. He has been operating his own citrus producing family business since 1983 in the Kirkwood area of the Sundays River Valley.
In the year 2000 the South African citrus industry experienced the most challenging season in its history. The disaster of 2000 prompted James and Johnny to join hands and contemplate the way ahead. This low in the history of the industry became the catalyst to the formation of a successful business capable of sustaining itself and being competitive in the future. Five key areas were identified as being critical to their future success:
- Both partners owned land with the potential to develop but development capital was a limiting resource. This land needed to be developed.
- Risk needed to be shared in any future venture in the industry.
- The market needs were paramount for success hence the importance of the cultivars (products) to be produced.
- The effective utilization of available technologies in the industry and
- Every employee should hold ownership in the business and hence have the opportunity to affect the future of his/her financial well being.
Early in 2001 a business plan (version 1) was presented to the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) for consideration. Due process was followed by IDC and by 13 December 2001 approval for the funding of the project was granted. An Environmental Impact Assessment was presented on 1 October 2001 to Department of Economic Affairs, Environment & Tourism to approve the development and after a long delay a Record of Decision was received on 13 February 2002 for the commencement of the project. Preparations for planting began immediately and the first trees were planted in March and November of that year. By end 2005 167866 Citrus and Persimmon trees had been planted to complement the existing 37177 trees bringing the total plantings at Sun Orange to date to 205043 trees. These have been established on a net area of 243 hectares.
The Company was restructured into its current form in 2002. The current shareholding is as follows:
- Industrial Development Corporation 40%. This shareholding was acquired through a R 10.033 million cash contribution in the form of equity.
- Sun Orange Trust 40%. The European Union has made funds available for empowerment in South Africa and these funds are being managed by IDC on their behalf. This fund is termed the IDC Risk Capital Facility. R 10.033 million of this fund has been made available and the shares acquired are being warehoused on behalf of the Trust by the IDC Risk Capital Facility.
- James Hannah 13.6%. Property plant & equipment to the value of R 2.95 Million were contributed by James for this shareholding.
- Sontule Investments (Pty) Ltd 6.4%. Land to the value of R1.35 Million.
The Shareholders agreement provides for the following:
- Sontule Investments (Pty) Ltd must acquire 23.6% of the shares through a put option over a three year period commencing from February 2011 from IDC. This option will bring Sontules shareholding to 30%.
- James Hannah acquires 16.4% of the shares through the same Put Option Agreement. This will bring James’ shareholding to 30%.
- The IDC is entitled to sell a 9% shareholding to the Trust of the Option shares. This entitlement can result in the Trust owning 49% of the Company.
It is the stated intention of the Operating Partners that additional shareholding will be made available to the Trust when skills transfer has effectively taken place to their satisfaction. This transfer will ultimately indicate the success of the project.
Board of Trustees
- Constance Mari (Chairperson)
- Maxwell Grootboom (Vice Chairperson)
- Bukeka Matyeke (Secretary)
- James Hannah (Treasurer)
- Ernest Makrwalana (Member)
- Rinki Nqontsha (Member)
- Nombuso Mgadi (Member)
- Bulelani Tanana (Member)
- Sundays River Municipality
- South African Police Service
- Thembalethu Aids & Edu Trust
- Fair Trade Labelling Organization
- Nomathamsanqa Community
- ANC Youth League
- ANC Womans League
- Disabled Society
- Sporting Bodies
- Sector Crime Forum Committee
Sun Orange Farms Community Trust
Due to our Fair Trade accreditation an opportunity presented itself for Sun Orange to provide a vehicle through which our seasonal employees could make a contribution to their community by working on the farm. The premiums earned through the sale of Fair Trade branded fruit are paid into the Sun Orange Farms Community Trust account and utilized for social upliftment in their community. The trust is registered as a non profit and organization and provides a conduit for any donor monies through it to the benefit of its activities.
Board of Trustees
- Ernest Makrwalana
- Bukeka Matyeke
- JH Hannah
- C Brummer
Board of Directors
- W Barnes – Chairman & IDC
- M Mpeta – IDC Representative
- Dr D J Nel - IDC Representative
- J H Hannah
- C Brummer