Urban and rural farming can tackle youth unemployment by cultivating job creation, stimulating youth entrepreneurship and tackling food insecurity. HandPicked teaches farming methods, technical farming and agribusiness skills to youth: shifting them from consumers to producers.
Here are some of the young women diligently cultivating their futures through the agriculture programme.
From Ntabankulu in the Eastern Cape, this 24-year-old believes, “women should be celebrated for they are pillars to any home”. Sethu studied Farming Management at Coastal College in uMlazi before joining the programme. It has taught her that agriculture needs a “positive, humble and patient” person.
“I plan to own my own farm; produce goods for locals; create job opportunities; take part in the economy and provide agricultural training to young people, and educate them about the broadness of this field.”
Nokubonga Precious Shange
Twenty-three-year-old Nokubonga is studying Farming Management at Coastal KZN TVET College. She has enjoyed learning about the business side of farming and plans to become a farm owner and start an agriculture community project for youth in her community.
“The programme makes farming easier and more interesting. It widens the mind of new interns, exposing them to other farming methods. It is the norm for us, as students, to think farming is only done on the farms; however, we have learnt you can also farm in greenhouses.”
Women’s Month is significant to Nokubonga, especially concerning gender-based violence. “Women’s Day plays a pivotal role in educating our opposite gender and reminds them the importance of caring and taking care of the women we have in this land.”
Her mother and stepmother are her role models. “They are my ‘sheroes’ and women of strength. They have always emphasised the importance of education, which has helped me find my feet in life. Even though they were not working, they supported me in my academic life up until this day, and this has been the best gift they have ever given me.”
Noluthando from Durban plans to open a mixed animal farm, providing internships for agriculture students and creating job opportunities. The twenty-two-year-old studied Farming Management at Coastal KZN TVET College. Through HandPicked, she has learnt that farming can be achievable.
“You don’t need a huge piece of land or a farmer to help you. You can buy your own greenhouse and it saves labour, energy and time. It does not need electricity and many other traditional resources for planting. Women’s Month is important to me because it calls for equality and brings attention to many of the important issues that women face in the world such as domestic violence and harassment in the workplace.”
Hailing from Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, HandPicked taught Boniswa the easiest way to plough and save water, space, soil and labour. The 23-year-old believes Women’s Month is important to celebrate as “it is the only month we appreciate and recognise the value and power of a woman.”
Her role model is the young and successful farmer, Njabulo Mbokane. “She inspires young black woman farmers and is changing the face of agriculture in South Africa by building her own successful farming business from the ground up.”
Studying Farming Management at Coastal KZN TVET College, Hlengwi sees a future in farming and hopes to have a mixed farm in KwaZulu-Natal. The 26-year-old from Umlazi believes there is an opportunity for youth in agriculture.
“The agriculture industry is growing at an incredibly rapid pace. As it does, the demand for qualified candidates increases. This presents a unique opportunity for college graduates to find work quickly, pursue different areas of expertise to discover their niche and ultimately, grow their careers much faster than they might in other industries.”
The HandPicked programme taught Senamile teamwork, communication and how to plant seedlings, harvest crops and plan for a business. “I think the programme is more helpful to us students from colleges. It gives us the best experience about farming, business plans and owning a garden,”
The 28-year-old Mandeni resident is studying Farming Management at Elangeni TVET College. Her mother is her role model. “She is a single parent affording her children with the money she got from supplying Tongaat Huletts company and selling vegetables. She doesn’t have qualifications in the agricultural sector, but she’s a farmer and sends me to school to be a qualified farmer. I think I will do more from what she did.”
Senamile plans to use her mother’s sugarcane field for planting vegetables.