Farming co-op provides food, jobs


25 October 2013

The Manyeding Agricultural Co-operative project is successfully winning the fight against hunger and poverty in communities near Kuruman in South African’s Northern Cape province.

“The demand for our produce from the neighbouring villages is very high, and with the support that we are getting from both government and the private sector, this agricultural project will never become a white elephant,” the co-operative’s chairperson, Boitshoko Moacwi, told SAnews on Thursday.

The co-operative is part of a government intervention called Fetsa Tlala (End Hunger), which seeks to promote self-sufficiency by helping communities to produce food – including maize, beans, wheat, sunflower, ground nuts and potatoes – on communal and under-used land.

The initiative aims to help small-scale and smallholder farmers put one-million hectares of land which has been lying fallow under production over the next five years, as well as to help small businesses process the crops once they have been harvested.

President Jacob Zuma visited the Manyeding project on Thursday afternoon as part of the official launch of Fetsa Tlala.

Moacwi said the Manyeding co-operative – with a total of 159 beneficiaries from Manyeding and the surrounding villages – was situated on 137 hectares and produced organic vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, green beans, cabbage and pumpkins.

“We have 24 permanent employees, and I must tell you that people from this area are no longer traveling to Kuruman town to buy vegetables, because they know that we are the ones who are supporting Pick n Pay, Boxer and Spar with our fresh produce.”

There are three tractors at the project and a centre-pivot irrigation system – a highly efficient system which helps conserve water. Since they have connected water pipes from a fountain about 4.5 kilometres away into their small dam, Moacwi said they were thinking of expanding their project by producing bottled water.

He said the provincial department of agriculture had committed R5-million to the project, which also covered the construction of their package storage facility.

Others involved in the project include Kumba Iron Ore, the National Development Agency, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, the Baga Jankie Tribal Authority, the Joe Morolong Local Municipality, and the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality.

The managing head of sustainable development at Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen Mine, Mashilo Mokotong, said that, of the 27 community projects they were funding, “this is the only one where there are no squabbles for leadership position or tribal factions. The fact that their products are in demand show us that they are indeed winning their fight against hunger, poverty and food insecurity”.

Mokotong said Kumba had injected R10-million into the project since 2010, including R1.4-million for this financial year, adding that they had contracted supply chain management company OrganiMark to provide people working on the project with organic management training.