Empowering Youth: From Unemployment to Agriculture

In the face of harsh realities like unemployment and poverty, a group of six determined young individuals from Ngqamakwe in the Eastern Cape, consisting of five women and one man, took control of their destinies.

Land Grant Sparks Ambition

Their quest for a better life led them to approach their local chief in 2014, seeking arable land. Thankfully, their request was granted, and they received a five-hectare farm.

Birth of Zimasa Youth Agriculture Primary Cooperative

These ambitious young people formalized their efforts by officially registering their venture as the Zimasa Youth Agriculture Primary Cooperative in 2018. Their primary focus was cabbage farming, with the aim of generating income and improving their lives.

Chairperson’s Recollection of Early Struggles

Babalwa Koni, the chairperson of the cooperative, vividly recalls the challenging early days. She shared, “When we decided to start farming, we were unemployed and desperate, which is a difficult situation for young people.”

Harvesting Success

The farm has since played a pivotal role in transforming their lives. The cooperative plants an impressive 10,000 crops of cabbage per cycle and employs ten casual workers.

Challenges in Farming

Babalwa also highlighted the challenges they face, especially during the initial planting phase, where they need to plant cabbage, add manure, and prepare the land. This stage requires more helping hands.

Selling Their Harvest

The cooperative sells its harvest to local retail stores, community members, and vendors.

Expansion Requires Support

To further grow and expand their operations, the cooperative needed support and resources.

Government Assistance: DALRRD and NDA

They received advice from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) to seek funding from the National Development Agency (NDA), a government agency dedicated to fighting poverty and addressing its root causes. An NDA official visited their farm, and they successfully applied for funding.

Government Funding and Contributions

In 2021, the cooperative secured funding from the NDA amounting to R 191,290.62. This funding was utilized to purchase a solar-powered irrigation system, garden tools, fertilizers, and to enhance security on the farm.

The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) provided solar equipment for the borehole, six water tanks, and fencing. The DALRRD also offered mentorship and a generator.

A Call to Action

Babalwa Koni shared her fulfillment and called on young women to embrace agriculture, emphasizing the availability of government funding and support.

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