The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has injected a massive R15.7 million into an agricultural cooperative formed by a group of young people from Jericho in the North West. Bana Ba Kgwale Agricultural Primary Cooperative was started by 25 young people who wanted to get involved in farming, supply local communities with the produce and create job opportunities for their counterparts in the village.
The cash injection from the department comes as part of its Recapitalisation and Development Programme that aims to provide interventions to distressed and newly acquired farms.
Chairman of the cooperative Jacob Maiketso said it was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in 2008.
“Since then the project never looked back and has created a number of job opportunities, from production stream to packaging and cleaning. So far 133 jobs have been created,” said Maiketso.
The 510 hectares farm is on the tribal land of the Bakwena Ba Mogopa Traditional Authority. The traditional authority allocated the land to Bana Ba Kgwale through a lease agreement for nine and half years.
The money from the department was used for the connection of Eskom power lines to the farm, fencing, water tanks and stands, building a 200 square metre ablution block, a 2 508 square metre pack house and office, as well as a borehole pump.
The money was also used to buy farming implements, fertilisers, seeds, for labour, insurance, fuel and other activities on the farm.
The cooperative supplies chain supermarket Pick n Pay with cabbages, spinach, carrots and butternuts.
As a form of giving back to the community, the Bana Ba Kgwale Cooperative also donates fresh vegetables to poor households and to the Maboloka HIV/AIDS Hospice Centre Project in the Maboloka village just outside Jericho.
The Bana Ba Kgwale Agricultural Primary Cooperative is a prime example of how rural communities can transform the rural economy and convert projects into enterprises with government’s help.
*King Mthombeni works for the Department of Rural Development and Reform.