Limpopo goes back to basics to fight hunger

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ha-Matsila - A community farming project aimed at developing agricultural productivity and to ensure that fewer people in South Africa are food insecure has been unveiled in Limpopo.

The Matsila Community Project, which is situated in Matsila village under the Makhado Municipality, was officially launched by Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on Sunday.

"The interesting part of this project is that it will not only provide jobs for the local people but it will also provide food to residents. We want government to be the main source of procurement of this project.

"As government, we are very proud to be associated and be part of this successful and well-run project, and we are hopeful that it will go a long way in addressing poverty and hunger in our communities.

"We will sign agreements with other government departments so that they can support the project by buying products as another way of sustaining the project," said the minister.

She urged residents to make their project grow from strength to strength. "We also urge you to develop vegetable gardens in your backyards, schools and clinics in order to fight hunger."

Joemat-Pettersson further committed to help the project with tractors.

The launch was part of the build-up to the main celebration of Nelson Mandela Day in Giyani stadium on Monday. Joemat-Pettersson got her hands dirty for 67 minutes collecting, grading, sorting, cleaning and packing eggs.

She was also joined by Limpopo MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Joyce Mashamba, MEC for Agriculture, Pinky Duba, and executive mayor of Vhembe, Florence Rumani and Makhado mayor, Mavhungu Luruli.

The packaged eggs were donated to orphans, children with disabilities and the poorest of the poor in the community.

"This is the project which the community must jealously guard against any form of criminality and other ways of derailing it ... This project is thriving, it is visible and you can feel it.

"As the provincial leadership, we will be closely evaluation and monitoring this project because we don't want it to become a white elephant," said Mashamba.

Her sentiments were echoed by Duba: "We are going to establish a market for this project at an international level and we want to roll-out similar project across the province. We are really proud of what it is happening in this village. This project is also playing a central role in uniting villagers."

Luruli had this to say about the project: "We've since established a committee to work with villagers, but we want to give credit to the visionary traditional leadership of this area for uniting residents to establish this project."

Through the Matsila Community Development Trust, the project received a whopping R54 million to fight food insecurity over the next three years.

Chairperson of the Lottery Board, Dr Alfred Nevhutanda, said: "This is the first project of this nature to be funded by the Lottery Board and it is interesting to see magnificent progress and we believe that the wealth of this country should not have boundaries. Gone are those days where projects like this were known to exist in Gauteng or Cape Town."

Traditional leader Livhuwani Matsila said the project they started last year has since created jobs for 300 local residents in the village with a population of about 2 000 people.

"The secret behind the success of this project is that as residents, we are united. We've already begun to commercialise some of our products in local food outlets. With this support from government, we will take this project down the drain," he said.

Currently, there is a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, in which the community trust is involved with Resource Africa.

The Matsila Community Development Trust was established by the Matsila royal family in consultation with residents to facilitate and coordinate socio-economic development activities within the village and its surrounding settlements.

The projects has 180 goats, a herd of cattle with 50 Nguni cows, two bulls and 4 000 chickens with the capacity to lay up to 3 000 eggs per day.