Residents of Walmer in the Eastern Cape have rolled up their sleeves and taken the fight against poverty into their own hands.
In 2006 Zanemvula Tyokwana and nine others started the Walmer Hydroponic Cooperative and formally registered it in 2007. The aim was to address food shortages, create employment and provide agricultural skills to the many unskilled young people in the area.
Hydroponics is a method used to produce crop that doesn’t require soil to plant. The project produces baby marrow, patty pan, peppers and tomatoes. These are sold to Fruit & Veg, Spar, restaurants, shops in the area and the public.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality lent a hand by building tunnels, which act as a greenhouse protecting the crops from the weather. The municipality also provided the group with farming tools.
Thina Sinako, a non-governmental organisation that supports cooperatives, also made a contribution by building an office with a boardroom, cool rooms and sponsoring two bakkies.
So far the project has created 12 permanent jobs for community members. In 2011 the project trained 50 local youth in crop management.
Students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have also joined the project as interns. The students assist with marketing and administration work and have proved to be a great asset to the project.
* Portia Mlisa works for GCIS in Nelson Mandela Bay.