The Eastern Cape Office of the Premier and the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (ECRDAR) pledged about R60 million to boost youth-focused agricultural initiatives in the province.
It recently donated various implements, including tractors, to 12 youth-owned agricultural cooperatives.
The Lower Zingcuka Agricultural Cooperative, which received a complete tractor set, seedlings and fencing, has committed to expanding its crop production business to fight poverty and create more jobs for unemployed locals.
Chairperson Thembekile Hele said the resources will expand the business and increase revenue.
The cooperative produces maize, potatoes, cabbage and butternut, which is sold to shops in East London and King Williams Town, and to locals.
Linking to market
ECRDAR MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane commended the youth for taking the initiative and creating employment.
The Lower Zingcuka Agricultural Cooperative created jobs for unemployed locals, helping them earn an income, the cooperative’s deputy chairperson Nosiviwe Mayalo said.
“Now that they are linking to markets, government is giving them implements to ensure quality produce. This will create rural wealth and ensure that these rural enterprises are part of the agriculture value chain,” said Qoboshiyane.
The cooperative’s produce will be on retail shelves soon.
“We have big dreams for this project. We started from nothing by planting crops on one hectare of land and we have now grown to nine hectares. Our dream is to start the Lower Zingcuka Agricultural Fruit and Vegetable market,” Mayalo said.
Premier Phumulo Masualle was excited about the project. “It shows that the call we made is being well received, particularly by young people. We had set to make agriculture fashionable, to get young people to see value in participating in agricultural activities. This is one such project, but we have many of them.”
The province is now focusing on training, re-orientating and re-skilling young people and people with disabilities to benefit from the agriculture value chain.