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Livestock Wealth’s Farmland Investment goes global

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 02 May 2024
Ntuthuko Shezi, Livestock Wealth founder and CEO.
Ntuthuko Shezi, Livestock Wealth founder and CEO.

Livestock Wealth’s citrus crowd-funding (or crowd-farming) initiative in Limpopo is going global, as it prepares to export citrus fruits to China and several parts of Europe.

The citrus crowd funding initiative forms part of the investment firm’s Farmland Investment offering introduced in July 2023.

It provides investors who want to own a farm with an opportunity to buy – together with other investors – a portion of a professionally-managed farming operation and own it over a period of up to 10 years, for as little as R5 000.

According to the company, investing in farmland had previously been out of reach for the majority of South Africans who could afford to own a farm outright.

Several investors have poured funding into the 577-hectare Limpopo-based Hope Farm, which consists of 100 hectares of oranges, grapefruit and lemon orchards, and a fully-operational pack house.

According to Livestock Wealth, the grapefruit harvest on the farm began in April, and oranges will ripen in May, June and July.

“We are excited to bring land and land ownership within reach of every South African,” notes Ntuthuko Shezi, Livestock Wealth founder and CEO.

“This will be our first harvest and the fruit is predominantly for export markets of China and Europe. The harvest is important as it is the critical point where income is generated through the sale of the fruit, thereby earning the profit that the investors get to share in.”

Founded in October 2015 by electro-mechanical engineer Shezi, Livestock Wealth says it has helped thousands of people to invest in tangible, agricultural assets − such as cattle-breeding, free-range oxen, organic garden tunnels and macadamia nut trees − via its platform, at an interest that is higher than mainstream investment options (9% interest per annum).

The company says it now has over R100 million in assets under management across different products, such as pregnant cows, free-range oxen and garden tunnels, with macadamia trees as the most recent farmland.

Hope Farm’s crowd-funding model has attracted 307 international and local investors who own 26% of the farm, with Livestock Wealth owning the balance, according to the company.

In 2022, the farm exported 120 000 cartons of oranges and is expecting no less from this year’s export. Each carton weighs 15kg, making this 1 800 tons of fruit transported in 50 shipping containers.

According to Shezi, the process of harvesting starts by first conducting a crop estimate of how many oranges will come from each tree and in turn from the entire farm.

The different variety of oranges ripen at various stages, so it is critical to check how ready the trees are for harvest and plan how many people are required to pick the oranges from the trees.

The fruit is then carted into the pack house (Hope Packhouse), where it is washed, sorted, quality tested and boxed, ready to be sent to Durban port.

“We believe that innovation in farming can be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation in rural areas. I am thrilled that Livestock Wealth is leading the way into a brighter future for South Africa,” comments Shezi.

In January, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority opened an investigation into the online investment platform, alleging it may be operating its online investment services illegally. However, Livestock Wealth has refuted these allegations.

At the time, Shezi said Livestock Wealth is co-operating fully with the authority to ascertain the reasons for its concerns and ensure it is operating within the letter of the law.

The investigation is still ongoing.