Sappi Khulisa

Started in 1983, Sappi Khulisa is a tree-farming scheme that initially focused on supporting subsistence farmers in South Africa who had access to 1-20 hectares of land on which to grow trees. Initially, only three farmers participated, working on eight hectares—today there are more than 4,000, working more than 27,000 hectares of land.


    Where it all happens:

    Sappi Khulisa was established in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, covering the area from Mangusi near Kosi Bay in the north to Port Edward in the south and inland as far as Ixopo and Nongoma. Since inception, Sappi Khulisa has expanded to the Eastern Cape near the towns of Bizana and Lusikisiki.

    Creating shared value:

    Sappi Khulisa started as a tree-farming scheme aimed at subsistence farmers. It is now a successful job creation and entrepreneurship development model aligned with the South African Government’s strategy of promoting forestry as a means of creating sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. Sappi Khulisa forms the foundation of our corporate social responsibility, enterprise development focus.

    Sappi Khulisa exemplifies the principles of shared value: small growers build sustainable businesses and a decent income, while Sappi secures a quality fibre supply.

    How are we achieving this?

    • Sappi provides the growers with quality seedlings, using site-specific species for best yield.
    • A qualified team of dedicated Sappi Khulisa foresters provides extension services and expert advice to growers.
    • Sappi guarantees a secure future market for buying timber from growers at fair, market-related prices.
    • An interest-free loan is provided to cover all farming input costs, including annual maintenance of the plantations until harvesting.
    • Growers receive advances for work carried out throughout the generally 8 – 10 year growing cycle.
    • We encourage the establishment of growers’ clusters to increase collaboration between growers, contractors and Sappi, as well as to maximise the opportunities available in the Forestry Value Chain. We also foster the concept of peer learning, where growers learn from each other through Growers' Days.
    • Sappi has established training centres, Khulisa Ulwazi (Growing knowledge) and developed training material in conjunction with the Institute of Natural Resources. Training is offered to all value chain participants and covers all aspects of forestry, including the core operational skills as well as safety, legal compliance and advice on running a business.

    You can watch the Sappi Khulisa video here.


      Did you know?

      • The total area currently managed under this programme amounts to 27,080 hectares.
      • An extension services team supports the growers.
      • More than 1,100 indirect rural jobs—many of them women—and more than 100 small-, medium- and micro enterprises (SMMEs) have been established through Sappi Khulisa.
      • In 2018, under the programme, 483,359 tons (2017: 448,221 tons), worth ZAR379 million was delivered to our operations
      • Since 1995 a total volume in excess of 3.8 million tons, to the value of ZAR2.1 billion, has been purchased from small growers in terms of this programme
      • The Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards celebrate companies in South Africa who have made a remarkable contribution to successful supplier development. In 2018, Sappi Forests won the Women’s Empowerment Award and Rural Economies Award and was also recognised as an overall finalist as well as a finalist in the Innovation category. The awards were based on Sappi’s contribution to supplier development in South Africa through Sappi Khulisa. 

      Related articles:

      Mama Khumalo flourishes with Sappi Khulisa

      Learn more about forestry within Sappi Southern Africa here.