Youth and elderly inspire community with food project

2016-05-31 10:59
Einah Ntombela (front) with Sabelo Mbense and Lindokuhle Magwaza (at the back), inside the tomato hothouse that they will soon harvest from.

Einah Ntombela (front) with Sabelo Mbense and Lindokuhle Magwaza (at the back), inside the tomato hothouse that they will soon harvest from. (Thabang Mathebula, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The youth and the elderly have joined hands to put food on their tables in a mutually beneficial project.

A young township man is taking the lead in his community by helping elderly people run a profitable tomato hothouse.

Lindokuhle Magwaza (21) was inspired to grow tomatoes from a young age while visiting gogos in Imbali who were tending tomato plants.

He would assist when his school ­schedule allowed it, helping them load crates of tomatoes during harvest.

During his gap year after matric, Magwaza saw the opportunity he had been waiting for and started assisting the elderly people on a full-time basis.

He got a post as an apprentice earlier this year, but said any spare time he gets, he dedicates to the hothouse.

Having been raised by his grandparents in Imbali township, Magwaza had learnt that farming is another source of bringing food to the table.

“I believe that this project will bring a lot of change and hope to the community there. There is a lot of unemployment in the area and the youth have given themselves to drugs,” he said.

“It is a dog-eat-dog world out there because of the scarcity of jobs. This kind of community project is aimed at uplifting the community and teaching people skills.

“If we get funding to expand this site and have more tunnels, many young people could learn skills here. They can even start their own projects.”

The tomato hothouse started operating 11 years ago and was run by elderly people in the area, who in return inspired a new generation of subsistence farmers, like Magwaza.

Magwaza said that he envisaged growth for the Ixhibo (food store house) project.

Einah Ntombela (70) is one of the four elderly women who run the project, along with Ntobizodwa Sosiba, Louisa Buthelezi and Nomfazwe Nxele.

Magwaza’s sister, Nontokozo, has also came on board with Zuziwe Buthelezi.

Ntombela said Magwaza was only a child when he started “playing at the hothouse site”.

Ntombela said there are challenges faced by the project.

“The first tunnel we acquired came out of our own pockets and Eskom came to the rescue and donated three more tunnels,” she said.

Ntombela said tomatoes produced from the hothouse have been supplied to local spaza shops and markets and the community buys directly from them if they find them to be too expensive at the spaza shops.

“We need money for special chemicals to treat the plants against insects, to pay the electricity and water bills and to buy sawdust,” she said.

Ntombela said they would welcome any help they could get.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  community  |  food

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