When the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) conducted a workshop in the Mpofana Local Municipality, in KwaZulu-Natal in 2019 to encourage young people to start household gardens in their communities, a group of five friends - faced with the reality of unemployment - knew this was an opportunity to change their fortunes.
The group from Tendela Village decided to take on the challenge and, with the department’s assistance and the little savings they had, the group managed to form a cooperative focusing on agricultural produce.
Abalimi Multipurpose Primary Cooperative is currently farming four of 12 hectares of land zoned for agriculture, which they are leasing from local community members.
It produces different crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and beans.
Thanks to the National Development Agency’s (NDA) R261 000 grant funding, the group was able to expand its operations, and used the money to buy agricultural equipment and supplies, including fencing, seedlings, protective clothing, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and sprinklers and draglines.
The NDA also trained cooperative members on Financial Management, Governance and Resource mobilisation.
Cooperative Chairperson, Lizwilenkosi Ndlovu, said before the agency’s intervention, the cooperative was farming only on one hectare due to lack of equipment.
“We had to start something because we were tired of staying at home. We had to contribute some funds for us to start, with the assistance from the Department of Agriculture.
“The increase in hectares has ensured that we also increase our produce and the profit that the cooperative makes,” Ndlovu said.
The cooperative’s growth has been very visible in the community, through the creation of employment opportunities in Tendela Village and it has inspired other young people to be active about their own development and utilising opportunities presented to them.
“Initially, the cooperative had been harvesting just enough for our family members and just a little for the local community. However, from 2022, with funding from the NDA and the capacity building training, we started selling our produce to retail shops and vendors, as far as Escort and Pietermaritzburg,” Ndlovu said.
As the country celebrates 2023 Youth Month under the theme “Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”, Ndlovu has challenged youngsters in her area to take the initiative and come up with solutions to help reduce and eradicate poverty
“We must not focus on other people bringing us solutions in our communities. We must ensure we come up with our own initiatives to bring ourselves out of poverty. It is possible for us to change the narrative and create opportunities of employment for youth,” Ndlovu said.
NDA KZN Provincial Manager, Yolisa Ndima, said the agency approved funding for Abalimi, as part of its commitment to working with youth, in particular and to change the narrative of youth economic underdevelopment and marching towards a South Africa that has economically active youth citizenry.
“The NDA firmly believes that through interventions that focus on youth and accelerating other development programmes at a local level, the impact of poverty eradication interventions will be realised.
“The success of Abalimi Multipurpose Primary Cooperative is but one example of such interventions. The NDA calls on the community of uMgungundlovu to support this cooperative and other such organisations of youth with the primary aim of accelerating towards “Youth Economic Emancipation,” Ndima said. – SAnews.gov.za