Farming bursaries for KZN youth

2010-06-21 00:00

THE Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development Department in KwaZulu-Natal is to offer bursaries to young people interested in agriculture, to combat the skills shortages that have plagued the department, MEC Lydia Johnson has announced.

She was speaking in Newcastle on Friday, when her department handed 48 Nguni cattle to youth farming organisations in the area as part of the commemoration of Youth Month.

The organisations that received cattle include the Siyanqobazwelethu Youth Project in Brakwater Farm in Utrecht, which received 25 cows and a bull, and the Siyakhula Youth Project in Nyanyadu Farm and Ndlulubheke Youth Project in Annandale Farm, which each got 10 cows and a bull.

Johnson said there are ample opportunities in agriculture because it is grappling with skills shortages, and she urged young people to take advantage of the situation.

“The heroes and heroines of June 16, 1976, sacrificed their lives fighting for education; therefore you have opportunities that they never had. Make good use of them,” said Johnson.

Xolani Mngani of Siyanqoba Youth Project expressed gratitude on behalf of the beneficiaries and shared his experience and passion for agriculture.

“Despite growing up in a township, I left the urban life and headed for the nearest farm in Brakwater outside Newcastle where I met a mentor who ignited my passion for agriculture,” said Mngadi.

He said mentorship gave him an opportunity to gain more knowledge about crop and animal production. He also encouraged young people to get into the agricultural sector and seize opportunities to establish themselves.

Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said the youth projects were awarded Nguni cattle because they complied with the new policy guidelines on indigenous livestock.

“Terms and conditions of the new policy stipulate that the cattle should only be given to livestock associations with resources like water, grazing land and fencing that can accommodate them.”

The new policy, drafted in 2008 and approved in 2009, emphasises that Nguni distribution must be made to livestock associations, not individuals.

The Nguni project was re-launched after it was halted in 2008 when it emerged that provincial politicians, administrators and their relatives had benefited dubiously from the project.

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