Land care project closes

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

An ambitious land care programme aimed at eliminating erosion and minimising environmental devastation in Limpopo has come to a standstill due to a lack of funds.

Lwatshatsimu Land Care Project in Vhembe district was started in 1997 to fight erosion and deforestation caused by villagers who farmed on top of hills, causing erosion.

Several hills were denuded and were in the process of recovery.

Project manager Makondelela Sigida said the initiative had come to a standstill because of a lack of finance .

The project was funded by the department of agriculture to the tune of R1,7 million, but Sigida says the budget was very low.

She said 10000 hectares of land had been identified as damaged and that indigenous species were at risk of being washed away during rainy seasons.

Members of the communities of Lwamondo, Tshakhuma, Tsianda and Mutsha were encouraged to plant fruit trees as these retained soil better than maize.

Last year the project won second prize in an international Land Care Award in Australia.

Sigida said though the provincial government had promised to pump more funds to sustain the project, nothing had happened.

"We need government support, otherwise this project will fail to realise its dreams," said Sigida.

She said communities had also started a project to produce atchar, but had been forced to close it down because of lack of funds to run an office and pay staffers.

MEC for agriculture Dikeledi Magadzi said the department would try to help the project.

She said the problem was caused by forced removals by white farmers who wanted the community's land.

"They were forced out of the land without compensation because the site was earmarked for agricultural farming," said Magadzi.