Confidently counting their chickens
Back in 2007, meat in the village of Pearston was a luxury enjoyed only by those who could afford to travel to butcheries in Somerset East and Graaff Reinet.
However, this changed when a group of unemployed residents in the Blue Crane municipality of the Eastern Cape decided to start a poultry and crop farming business. Seeing a gap in the market, members clubbed together to form the Vukuzenzele Pop to supply meat in the area.
The provincial Department of Agriculture donated the initial batch of 200 chickens and the Blue Crane Municipality provided them with land for farming.
Today, they generate funds to support their families in one of the poorest towns in the Eastern Cape. The project also serves as a vehicle for job creation to address poverty and unemployment in Pearston.
Starting off humbly, the group patiently set about building chicken coops, hatching baby chicks, raising and selling chickens, while saving to reinvest in the business. They also planted and sold vegetables.
Success and recognition
Along the way, some members chickened out, but a core group of 12 members, including 10 women, stayed the course. Today, the chickens have hatched and cooperative members can confidently count them. In 2010, the project won the National JET Community Builder of the year competition. They have now been entered for the International JET Awards.
In 2011, they were crowned the Eastern Cape Female Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. With success came recognition and more support from government.
Their hard work and success resulted in the Department of Agriculture donating a tractor and providing the services of a mentor to help develop their business and farming skills. The Department of Trade and Industry provided the group with a new bakkie, broiler chickens and chicken feed.
In addition, the Department of Land Affairs recently gave the project more land to expand its activities. Added funding from the Department of Social Development, the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) and the Department of Trade and Industry is also helping the group to increase their production.
Vukuzenzele Pop is now able to supply meat and vegetables for funerals and weddings in and around the area. They have their own poultry abattoir, the only one of its kind registered with the National Department of Agriculture. Members share a third of their income and deposit two thirds into an investment account.
The project is a shining example of the success- ful implementation of the CRDP, which aims to create vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural com- munities and food security for all.
The CRDP’s focus is on enabling rural people to take control of their desitiny with support from government. It encourages people in rural areas to produce food for themselves, develop farming businesses and start village industries.
Since it was launched in August 2009, the programme has created 15 336 jobs, established 3 258 food gardens, trained 3 819 people in master gardening, household food gardening, financial management, community-based planning, arts and crafts and indigenous seed production. About 658 co-operatives and councils of stake- holders have been established.
For more information, call the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture: 040 639 1180 or call Mphati: 012 312 8112