The Limpopo department of economic development, environment and tourism has set aside R15 million to bankroll the annual Marula Festival to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.
The festival has had positive economic spin-offs for the past 14 years.
It is held annually for 14 days in Phalaborwa near the Kruger National Park in the Mopani region.
The mining and tourism town, which is usually quiet, comes alive each February when visitors come to witness the wonders made out of the marula fruit.
MEC for economic development Thabo Mokone said last year’s festival generated R35 million. He said the money was invested back in the community of Phalaborwa by training small enterprises how to benefit from marula fruit.
Mokone said his department would also help local businesses involved in marula by-products, art, culture and tourism with market access to national and international communities.
He said the festival would give local entrepreneurs an opportunity to exhibit and sell their own products.
Chief Felia N’wamitwa of the Baloyi clan said the festival has, over the years, seen people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Europe, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho visiting the town.
The festival, which runs from 15 to 29 February, will include a tourism career fair and expo, half-marathon and fun run, exhibition, golf challenge, old ladies soccer tournament, 4×4 off-road challenge, comedy night, jazz and gospel music festival.