Qunu farm­ers sell first har­vest

Vuk'uzenzele - - Rural Development And Land Reform - Siya Miti

veG­eTaBle Farm­ers in Nel­son Man­dela’s vil­lage of Qunu, in the East­ern Cape, are reap­ing the ben­e­fits of a pro­gramme run by the Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form to fight poverty.

emerg­ing farm­ers in Nel­son Man­dela’s home vil­lage of Qunu in the East­ern Cape have sold their first veg­etable har­vest.

The farm­ers, who were among sev­eral re­cip­i­ents, were given veg­etable seedlings by the Depart­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form as part of In­ter­na­tional Nel­son Man­dela Day last year.

Seedlings were also given to the Nel­son Man­dela No­moscow Pri­mary School, the Emba and Up­per Qunu Ju­nior sec­ondary schools and the Angli­can Church to plant 67 plots in Qunu.

The project was not without chal­lenges, but the depart­ment did not lose hope. In March this year, it provided a fur­ther 2 400 cab­bage, beet­root, spinach and onion seedlings to the vil­lagers to con­tinue the food se­cu­rity pro­gramme, set up to fight poverty.

The farm­ers from the 15 house­holds reaped their hard­earned re­ward; the seedlings helped in­crease the size of the har­vest, and sell­ing their ex­tra pro­duce gave them a good in­come to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies.

The first har­vest was sold to the Mthatha Kei Su­per­spar in July.

Mas­sive sav­ings for poor house­holds

Speak­ing from his gar­den a stone’s throw away from Man­dela’s home, lo­cal farmer Koko Nkunzi said: “Veg­eta­bles quickly end poverty and, un­like maize, give you quick pro­duce. They have a good and quick turnover and it doesn’t take a long time to har­vest.”

Nkunzi said the pro­gramme helps them pro­duce their own food and have veg­eta­bles left over to sell. “Sell­ing our pro­duce to Spar mo­ti­vates us … had we started long ago we would be far by now,” he said.

Farmer Nothemba Bhakraza said the con­tri­bu­tion from the Gov­ern­ment has changed her life for the bet­ter. “We eat some of the veg­eta­bles and I sell spinach to lo­cal house­holds. The con­tri­bu­tion from gov­ern­ment is im­prov­ing my life be­cause I no longer buy veg­eta­bles from the shops. I buy a few things and mix them with my veg­eta­bles to pre­pare good food for my fam­ily.”

When food prices in­crease she doesn’t feel the pinch too much, she added. Based on cur­rent re­tail prices, a fam­ily like Bhakraza’s, which con­sumes two bunches of spinach and one cab­bage per meal, for 15 days per month, saves R570 on gro­ceries ev­ery month.

The wi­dow, a mother of seven and grand­mother of one, said her old-age grant and the profit she makes from sell­ing veg­eta­bles are the only sources of in­come she has.

Re­tailer lauds qual­ity

Jes­sica Ven­ter from Kei Su­per­spar praised the qual­ity of the veg­eta­bles from the Qunu farm­ers. “We will help th­ese farm­ers by buy­ing their pro­duce. The pro­duce is very fresh, sells at com­pet­i­tive prices and cus­tomers are re­spond­ing very well,” said Ven­ter.

East­ern Cape Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form MEC Mlibo Qo­boshiyane said his depart­ment de­cided to broaden the food se­cu­rity pro­gramme to the broader com­mu­nity. “We will give them more seedlings and help them im­prove their ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture to in­crease their pro­duce,” said Qo­boshiyane.

“I am happy to see th­ese farm­ers sell­ing their pro­duce to re­tail stores and lo­cal house­holds. I see this is not new to them. They are pas­sion­ate about agri­cul­ture.”

Farm­ers Koko Nkunzi and Nothemba Bar­haza cel­e­brate the first har­vest with East­ern Cape Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Agrar­ian Re­form MEC Mlibo Qho­boshiyane and Kei Su­per­spar’s Jes­sica Ven­ter.

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