HERALDLIVE / 04 NOVEMBER 2019 - 11.22 / STAFF REPORTER
Nine budding farmers from around the country have made the cut as finalists in the SAB Urban Agriculture / Youth Entrepreneurship Programme.
It seeks to have young people identify and invest in hydroponic technology and transform it into thriving farming businesses.
Each of the finalists will receive training and investment to grow their farms.
Phumzile Chifunyise, Enterprise Development Manager of SAB and AB InBev Africa, said she was happy that five of the nine finalists are young black women.
In October 2019, Stats SA revealed that unemployment was at its highest level in the country in 11 years.
This youth entrepreneurship programme is aimed at helping to create jobs through youth-owned farms.
SAB KickStart is aimed at youth entrepreneurs aged 18 and 35 and has been running since 1995 to develop, invest, and grow revenue generating youth businesses to create jobs.
Now in its second year, the Urban Agriculture programme invests in high potential farming businesses, by advancing farming businesses with technology that will grow the businesses and create lasting employment.
“As an organisation that is embedded in agriculture, our intention is to attract young people to the sector by alleviating the high barriers to entry such as technical and operational resources.”
“The finalists will complete a 15-month business development programme which provides technical and operational training, hydroponic infrastructure investment, industry-based mentorship, as well as market access,” said Chifunyise.
SAB has partnered with Made with Rural to help bring the programme to life and create sustainable jobs.
“We are growing the presence of young farmers through the application of hydroponic technology to scale their business and link them to markets,” she said.
Leeko Makoene, CEO at Made with Rural, said the company had designed a youth agribusiness development programme that consisted of innovative elements to maximise resources and deliver measurable value “without compromising SAB’s investment mandate.
From the way due diligence was conducted, to the structure of the boot camp, infrastructure sourcing and capital optimisation, we have ensured every action benefits the farmer.”
After careful sourcing and due diligence process to select prospective participants, nine agripreneurs were identified for the programme.
None are from the Eastern Cape.
The programme started with a boot camp which kicked off on the 21st of October consisting of young farmers, many of whom are self-taught farmers and had not had any form of formal training.
The boot camp is not only classroom-based, but also incorporates elements of on-the-job training led by industry experts, fireside masterclasses, field work and site visits to established commercial farms.
The content further covered exposure to advanced seed care, seedling production, computerised irrigation and fertigation, fertilisation and soil management masterclasses conducted by subject matter experts.
Following this will be roll out of infrastructure investment and business development support.
The finalists are:
Lungi Robela (GP) Owner of Robela Farm, which produces lettuce and cucumber
Rinae Tshikangavhadzi (GP) Owner of Woman In Action farm, which produces Kale, beans, spinach
Khutso Njenga (GP) Owner of Tech Farma, which currently produces cucumbers
Vutlhari Chauke (GP) Owner of VT Harvest which currently produces peppers and tomatoes
Katlego Meso (GP) Owner of Katlego Malesa Farming, which currently produces peppers and tomatoes
Nkanyiso Ngubane (KZN) Owner of Dukathole Youth Farm, which currently produces cucumbers and baby marrows
Welile Gumede (KZN) Owner of Azowel Projects, which currently produces tomatoes
Amanda Mpabanga (NW) Owner of Mabogo Dinku Agricultural Co-Op which, currently produces spinach
Siphamandla Bilitane (WC) Owner of Crispy Crop, which currently produces tomatoes
They will complete the programme in December 2020.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER