The Eastern Cape Province in South Africa – A Harsh Reality
The Eastern Cape is widely acknowledged and accepted as being the most impoverished province in South Africa. Ironically, it is endowed with generous tracts of land, which are notoriously well suited for agriculture, having fertile soils – sadly however, they lie unused and uncultivated.
The “Emerging Farmer Mentorship Programme”
It is against this background, that the opportunity was initially identified, to cultivate these unused expanses of lands, making them productive. In the process, the communities who would be prepared to participate would be placed in a unique situation whereby they would be directly empowered to improve their quality of life, by means of taking ownership of their plight and develop themselves back into the market. This would be facilitated byPhytoEnergy of Southern Africa, by means of support in the areas of mentorship, skills transfer, administrative assistance, the provision of a guaranteed market, provision of enabling assets such as farming tools and vehicles, and others.
In response to this, PhytoFarming launched the Emerging Farmer Mentorship Programme on April 23, 2012. The platform included a meeting with the community elders and the leader at Nywarha to undertake the following:
- 50 hectares of canola cropping to begin with immediate effect; and
- The Phyto-team is to prove to the community that they are an organisation that can be trusted and ultimately deliver on their promises.
The community at Nywara accepted the proposal and invited PhytoFarming to proceed with the proposed plan.
Soon however, it became clear that the ‘vision’ was dependant on communities which would demonstrate not only interest, but also have the resources in the form of community members available to work the lands. Sadly, this was a hurdle. PhytoEnergy were made aware of the fact that the majority of the youth of the communities had moved away to larger cities, in the pursuit of finding gainful employment, as their prospects in the communities themselves had a very bleak outlook. This resulted in communities comprising of elderly members, unable to part-take in the physically demanding activities required by agriculture.