Plan to lure youth to agricultural sector

Richard Mathebula, chair of Giba CPA.
Richard Mathebula, chair of Giba CPA.
Image: Vumelana Advisory Fund

The Giba Community Property Association (CPA) has launched Fortune 40, a three-year agricultural programme to mentor and train a cohort of young people on the working and managing of a farm.

The Giba CPA, based in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, is one of the land reform beneficiaries working with the government to help young people change their mindset towards the agricultural sector.

Richard Mathebula, the chairperson of the Giba CPA, said they have identified 80 hectares of land for the programme.

On this land, he said, young people will be able to learn how to run and manage different programmes including planting vegetables, growing bananas and managing a piggery and a chicken run.

According to Mathebula, "young people will learn everything about farming including the production side of the business, as part of a farm that also produces processed products".

Mathebula said that the "initial phase of the programme will be restricted to a cohort of 10 young people, who are the children of the beneficiaries of the CPA, to effectively manage the programme, and the rollout will be expanded thereafter".

Moreover, Mathebula said, negotiations with the government on when the project can start were disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19.

"They are still going to send assessors and engineers to identify land and we still have to discuss other related matters such as the budget and security. We hope to pick up on the conversation soon," he said.

The CPA was awarded restitution of 2,700 hectares of land in Hazyview and to date about 1,540 hectares of the land has been transferred. The remaining 1,166 hectares is still state-owned until it is also transferred. The CPA is made up of 500 households and the average age of members is 50. The CPA's youngest member is 33-year-old Bhekumuzi Sibiya.

He said CPA taught him a lot of things about how to become a successful farmer.

Mathebula said the Fortune 40 programme "forms a critical part of sustaining the productive use of the land".

"We have to change the perception that young people have about the agriculture. A lot of them believe it is for uneducated people and they think farm work is limited to physical labour. There are a number of areas in which young people can contribute to ensure that we sustain farming, especially on restituted lands."

Through the partnership, an estimated R51m is being invested in cultivating crops and improving infrastructure on the land under lease, and an estimated 130 permanent jobs will be created.

"We envisage that from this budget we are also going to contribute financially to the Fortune 40 programme once all talks are finalised with the department of agriculture.

"We have currently set aside R120,000 for training towards the Fortune 40 programme," Mathebula said.

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