South African local farm plans on hydroponic tunnel farm

With the COVID-19 pandemic having had a dire impact on jobs and people’s livelihood, the eThekwini Municipality, South Africa, continues to support women and youth co-operatives in the agribusiness sector.

This week, the mayor of eThekwini, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda visited the Cato Ridge Poultry Farm in Hammarsdale and Ilangabi Elingacishi Youth Nursery in Umzinyathi to assess progress on the development of these progressive agricultural initiatives. The municipality has invested R17, 7 million in both sites, which have already created 43 permanent jobs.

Green light has been given by the eThekwini to develop a hydroponic (tunnel) farm in order to grow large volumes of produce and provide an opportunity for private sector investment and partnerings. Chairperson of Ilangabi Elingacishi, Philani Magwaza shared that they appreciate the mayor’s visit as they have been able to showcase the work, they have already started doing to turn their lives around and contribute to the local economy since March 2020. The co-operative produces seedlings and vegetables.

“We have created employment for ourselves and created an additional five permanent jobs for locals as well as hire provide temporary jobs as and when the need arises. We further provide skills transfer to local emerging youth in agriculture. We have an existing contract to supply Spar at KwaMashu station,” Magwaza said.

A total of R96, 1 million has been invested since 2018 by the municipality, provincial government and other stakeholders to support and open markets for previously disadvantaged farmers and over 1, 400 permanent jobs have been created within this four-year period by agri-SMMEs that have received support.

The support already provided includes four youth nurseries, fencing, and irrigation of up to 40 SMMEs and 2, 100 hectares supported with mechanization (plowing, disking, and ridging) through the six tractors owned by the municipality. The city has also provided tunnel farm rentals, vertical farm facilities, access to markets programs as well as training and mentorship.

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