Early in 2011, President Jacob Zuma launched the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative at his hometown of Inkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
The programme was also implemented at nearby eShowe in the Umlalazi Municipality to create job opportunities for poor and vulnerable communities in rural areas.
The programme uses agriculture as a tool to help rural communities fight poverty and unemployment.
Since its launch, the programme has been extended to Mpumalanga’s Mkhondo Local Municipality in Piet Retief and the Eastern Cape’s Mhlontlo Local Municipality in Qumbu.
The rural development programme is chaired by President Zuma and various private sector organisations are also involved in the initiative as they provide inputs such as seeds and implements.
The national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and provincial departments of agriculture and rural development are also supporting the project with mechanisation in the form of tractors for vegetable and crop farming.
Speaking at the launch of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative in Mpumalanga in November 2011, President Zuma urged emerging farmers to use their farms to help create jobs and alleviate poverty through agricultural projects.
“If you stand firm and make sure that these projects don’t fail in your hands, poverty can be alleviated and job creation can be high,” President Zuma said. “We need to wake up and do things ourselves. Government is here to help you. People must not rely on grants for a living when they have land.”
President Zuma was accompanied by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.
Mabuza promised that offices of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative would be built in Mpumalanga soon.
“We have taken a resolution to build offices here in Mpumalanga, where Mpumalanga people can access them easily. We want people, including businessmen, to volunteer and boost projects in their communities. We don’t want the community to buy food from supermarkets, but let the supermarkets buy from them.”
Mabuza promised that his administration would support the Masibambisane farmers by buying food from them. “We will make sure that to sustain these projects, as government, we will buy food and vegetables for schools, hospitals and other government institutions. We will also help process them,” Mabuza said.
-Mbulelo Baloyi and Bua News