Boosting local economy through farming and agriculture

2019-04-17 06:01
PHOTO: Andile SitholeAt the function held in Greytown Town Hall (seated, from left) are Thamsanqa Ndlovu(ward 14 councillor), Sphindile Ngiba(municipal manager), Thamsanqa Ngubane(Umvoti Mayor), Ntombiyoxolo Sosibo(Mlasimbi representative), Wilson Khoza(Speaker) and Nozipho Khumalo(director of planning in Umvoti) with aspiring farmers.

PHOTO: Andile SitholeAt the function held in Greytown Town Hall (seated, from left) are Thamsanqa Ndlovu(ward 14 councillor), Sphindile Ngiba(municipal manager), Thamsanqa Ngubane(Umvoti Mayor), Ntombiyoxolo Sosibo(Mlasimbi representative), Wilson Khoza(Speaker) and Nozipho Khumalo(director of planning in Umvoti) with aspiring farmers.

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THE shortage of local farmers producing food to boost the economy in local municipalities has prompted Umvoti Municipality to devise plans to promote farming in communities through skills development programmes.

This emerged at a meeting held at the Greytown Town Hall on Friday, April 13.

The municipality, in partnership with Mlasimbi Catering Primary Co-operative Limited, awarded 100 young and aspiring farmers with certificates.

The aspiring farmers, coming from various wards under Umvoti Municipality, participated in a 38-day programme that started from February 4 and ended March 27.

Armed with different skills in the agricultural sector, young farmers were trained in plant production, animal production, poultry production and mixed farming.

The cooperative was appointed by the Department of Higher Education and Training to provide agricultural skills development for 100 participants within the Umvoti Municipality.

Other dignitaries at the function were Sphindile Ngiba (municipal manager), Thamsanqa Ndlovu (Ward 14 councillor) and Nozipho Khumalo (director of Planning and Economic Services).

In his speech, Umvoti Municipality Mayor Thamsanqa Ngubane expressed concern about the decline of agricultural products from local areas such as Muden, who Ngubane said was known throughout the globe for making great strides in the agricultural sector.

“[Muden] was the first area that was given back to the Blacks after 1994. Muden was known for [among other things] producing fruits that were transported even out of the country. In recent years, it shows me that we have lost touch with our land. It is through this project that, as government, we wish to educate the people about the importance of farming,” Ngubane said.

He also reminded farmers that because they have taken a first step as cooperatives to boost local economy, the municipality will support them and assist in getting them to the markets to sell the products.

“These certificates will unlock doors for you and create job opportunities. I would like to congratulate all of you for completing the programme,” Ngubane added.

Ngubane cited over population as one of the challenges that South Africa is facing.

“South Africa is struggling to produce food on its own. We import food from outside countries. Food security is important, especially in a country with the high unemployment rate. We shouldn’t be depending on other countries.

“In recent research conducted by SA government, it was revealed that [the majority] of goats being sold in the country come from Namibia. It’s unfortunate that the goats that we breed in our communities are only used for ritual ceremonies,” Ngubane said.

He assured residents that the municipality is committed to assisting everyone applying for sponsorship.

“As government we commit ourselves in finding a market for you and to ensure that you are not being exploited,” Ngubane said.

His words were echoed by Speaker of Umvoti Municipality Wilson Khoza, who encouraged youth farmers to create job opportunities. Khoza was also concerned about the decline of agricultural products coming from Muden area.

A representative from Mlasimbi Catering Primary Co-operative Limited, Ntombiyoxolo Sosibo, said: “In our cooperative we train students to acquire skills in farming in the agricultural sector.

“We offer skills programmes and learnerships. We hope to continue with our programmes in Umvoti Municipality.

Nonhlanhla Gasa (31), from Makhabeleni, was one of the students to complete the programme.

“My dream is to start a poultry farming. I am optimistic that the skills that we acquired through the programme will enable us to start our businesses,” Gasa said.

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