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Meet agricultural revolutionaries Khanya and Lilitha Bam

Businessmen Khanya and Lilitha Bam, who own Lwando Farming Enterprises.
Businessmen Khanya and Lilitha Bam, who own Lwando Farming Enterprises.

Brothers Khanya and Lilitha Bam are hoping redistribution of land will benefit their already thriving egg-hatching business in Nqamakwe, Eastern Cape.

The duo - who are 21 and 25 years old - have found success in the agricultural sector, a field that has largely been associated with older people.

The siblings started Lwando Farming Enterprises in 2015 after realising that they prefer being their own bosses.

"When we started the business it was very difficult to find land. We were lucky that our village chief gave us land as whenever I approached the banks, I would always get offered loans that would have been difficult to pay," he said.

The brothers raised R40 000 and convinced family members to inject another R40 000 into their idea.

Khanya called on young people to enter the agricultural space. "The great thing about agriculture is that it is a permanent sector as people will always be in need of food."

He said returning the land was key in ending poverty among black youth. "Land is very important and is a very valuable asset that one can use to improve their lives."

Khanya, who holds a BSc in agriculture from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said young people should study agriculture and get practical experience before opening their own businesses.

The importance of education for young people aspiring to join the sector is echoed by Thando Mpendulo. The 29-year-old is head of department at the University of Fort Hare's department of agriculture (animal science). He also holds a PhD in animal science.

"There's a lot to do in this industry. I used to think that life in agriculture is dull but I learnt that there is so much that can be done here, especially in the field of academics," Mpendulo said.

The young academic from Mthatha called on young people from townships and villages to learn what to do with the land.

"The beauty of agriculture is that it is a skill. Even if you lose your academics the skills you learn from agriculture can sustain you for the rest of your life.

"When you study agriculture you can become many things. There are career prospects in business, civil service, academia and research.

"We especially need researchers among black youth. That way they can drive their research into areas that will help improve agriculture for their communities."

Mpendulo said this is what motivated him to do his research for his PhD on how Nguni goats can maintain water in light of the current drought.

The Sowetan newspaper took Youth Day literally and challenged its young journalists by giving them charge of the Youth Day edition of the paper. Look over their shoulder to see what it took to put the paper together.

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