Young farmers encouraged to push through challenges

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela has encouraged young farmers to soldier on despite the difficulties they face. The Deputy Minister on Friday addressed the eighth edition of #BackChat, hosted by his ministry in Polokwane, Limpopo. The #BackChat sessions are a platform for youth to interact with government on matters that affect their lives and the country’s development.

Deputy Minister Manamela told those gathered to organise themselves and raise their concerns to government in once voice. “You are better placed and you know what kind of solutions you need,” the Deputy Minister said. He assured young farmers attending the session that he will assist them by taking their concerns to the relevant institutions. “Let us keep moving forward. Let us not be discouraged. We will finally succeed,” Deputy Minister Manamela told young farmers, who have been encountering difficulties in accessing official assistance. The Deputy Minister said he is impressed by the young farmers, who are contributing to the country’s economy.

#BackChat sessions are hosted by the Presidency to engage youth, get their views and take good suggestions forward for implementation. Young people from a number of youth organisations, representatives from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Office of the Premier in Limpopo attended the eighth edition of #BackChat. During the discussions, the young farmers dispelled the myth that agriculture is an industry for uneducated individuals, who do not require proper training. Many young farmers expressed concern over the lack of access to finance, land and agricultural training. They appealed to government to intervene by providing education and skills training in farming.

Fruits of hard work

Despite the challenges, there are those who persevere to become successful. Lebo Malao (24), from Brits in the North West, told SAnews that he succeeded without getting funding from government. Malao is a vegetable farmer, who started farming in 2012. He has employed 50 people from his village. Malao sells his products to big markets. “To become a farmer, you need to be committed. Farming is not easy,” he said. Vegetable farmer Abigail Shlaisi (23) from Giyani, Limpopo, said she has been struggling to get funding. Despite all the challenges, she has managed to employ three people. Shlaisi, who started farming last year, advised young people who are interested in farming to be prepared to work hard. “Farming is difficult and it needs one to be a hard worker and disciplined.”

Shlaisi has been renting a farm for R15 000 a month. However, she has just secured a piece of land and will start farming on that land soon. Another young farmer who has risen against the odds is Edward Kgarose (27), who produces yoghurt from sweet potatoes. Kgarose runs his farming operation in Ga-Molepo village, about 40 minutes from Polokwane. He started his business in 2015 and has employed two people. According to Kgarose, on average, he sells about 60 containers a day. “I have secured a piece of land that has a borehole. I am waiting for the Department of Agriculture to assist by erecting a fence, then I can start utilising the land,” said Kgarose.

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