Tambankulu Estates is an agri-business based on two agricultural estates astride the Black Umbuluzi River in north eastern Swaziland, 97 km from Maputo, 136 km from Mbabane and 525 km from Durban. The developers of these estates, the Hersov family, were pioneers in the development of the Swaziland lowveld. Tongaat Hulett purchased Tambankulu in April 1998.
The Estate was initially developed in 1951 as a cattle ranch, with a breeding programme designed to improve the local hardy breed with imported bulls. Eventually a very fine stud herd of Brahmans was established, this breed having been found highly suited to our semi-tropical conditions.
In 1955 irrigation works were established on the Umbuluzi River, and the production of sugar cane began. Today beef production has made way for sugar. 5 700 Hectares of land was sold to the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation in 1978, and the balance of arable area was developed to sugar for supply to Simunye Mill.
Crop production began in 1957 when a sugar quota was obtained for the nearby Mhlume Mill, which was developed on land sold to the then Colonial Development Corporation, and the first 160 hectares of cane was planted. This was planted under overhead irrigation, a system that was pioneered by this Estate. Water came from the recently completed Mhlume Canal, which transports water for 60 km from the Komati River.
Today 3 767 hectares of fully irrigated cane is producing 62 000 tons of sucrose annually and is the largest independent sugar estate in Swaziland. The average yield per hectare is 125 tons/hectare/annum. The farms are run along modern business lines, employing high tech irrigation systems, application of fertilisers through the irrigation system (fertigation), artificial ripeners and herbicides
The Tambankulu sugar cane estate in Swaziland has consistently achieved excellent sucrose yields due to the good soils and growing conditions in the region. The company delivers its cane to the nearby Simunye and Mhlume sugar mills.