Three young aspiring farmers in Soshanguve Block H, north of Pretoria, have pleaded with the government to assist them to acquire hectares of land to farm and grow different types of vegetables.

The three have recruited 12 other young people into farming and now go by the name Help a Friend Organisation.

Gauteng Department of Agriculture has vowed to support initiatives such as this, with the main aim being fighting food insecurity and unemployment.

A report by Stats-SA indicates that 6.8 million South Africans experienced hunger in 2017. There is fear amongst some that the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown may compound this situation. Some say backyard gardens are the way to go to mitigate against this.

The Help a Friend Organisation aims to fight things such as these. The young people’s passion is now hindered by a lack of land to plant their vegetables. They say the place is too small for them to plant enough vegetables.

Secretary of Help a Friend Organisation, Oreneilwe Majene, says they wish is to expand their gardening to create more jobs for locals.

“Right now, I got more information from Botshabelo and the MEC about agriculture. Then from the other side, where we cleaned the dumping side, we’ve planted beetroot, cabbage, spinach, and onions. For now, we intend to supply the community. The main objective, in a year, we see ourselves supplying kit kat and Maluleka Spar. As the project grows, we plan to employ 60% of Soshanguve young members.”

Skills development 

A non-profit organisation, Botshabelo Black Farmers has come on board, promising to equip this organisation with the necessary skills.

Spokesperson David Tatane says they will offer technical support to the group. He says their objective is to lift them to the mainstream commercial agriculture business.

“We will give them an informal training and we will be with them physically to ensure that they pull their projects on the ground. We must remember that we are in trying times of COVID-19 pandemic, and then one of the challenges is hunger and loss of jobs. We want to create this as a potential job creation market for the younger ones. We want to make agriculture fashionable so that this coming generation will be able to view agriculture as a potential job creation sector.”

MEC for Agriculture in Gauteng Morakane Mosupye, who visited the area, says government will support youth in agriculture, as part of fighting food insecurity.

“We need to get more of them. I am not happy with the number of young people that we have in farming, but it’s our responsibility to teach them, to show them that farming can be a business, that it can be a sustainable business. It can be a business that will create jobs. It is a business that fits people. So, the honour is on us as a department to make it attractive to young people. Author- Salang Motsepe