HARRY GWALA AGRI: FACILITATING TRANSFORMATION IN AGRICULTURE
By Cindy Kidger
High Flats farmer Douglas Strachan demonstrates the correct practices of vegetable growing to neighbouring smaller scale farmers.
Harry Gwala Agri (PTY) LTD is actually a non-profit organisation founded by commercial farmers within the Harry Gwala District Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal in an attempt to formalise, in addition to also drive, the sharing of skills, the imparting of valuable experience in addition to also, at times, the providing of financial support for their neighbouring smaller-scale farmers.
at This specific point 18 months after inception, the initiative supports several projects within the district which tackle food security, provide much-needed mentorship, drive internship programmes in addition to also source sponsorship for aspiring farmers.
The fundamental principal of Harry Gwala Agri is actually which of no handouts however rather to act as a facilitator for providing aspiring, local farmers with skills development in addition to also to support the unique demands of existing projects within the district, by sharing of commercial farmers’ knowledge, networks, experiences in addition to also access to finances in order to alleviate the crippling poverty within the district.
“As commercial farmers, we can no longer live as islands of prosperity amidst a sea of poverty. We can no longer farm alongside others who are unable to do the same because of past injustices. We need to take action,” says founder chairperson of Harry Gwala Agri, John Bredin.
The “end” goal of Harry Gwala Agri is actually for farmers to become self-sufficient by the imparting of skills resources by more experienced commercial farmers explains Project Manager Dylan Weyer.
“For many years within the district, local farmers have been involved in projects assisting their little-scale neighbours however these were often unsustainable as commercial farmers are very busy in addition to also the demand by so many little-scale farmers very high; Harry Gwala Agri is actually a formalisation of all of these projects under one umbrella, spreading the resources of knowledge, information in addition to also expertise to include more commercial farmers in addition to also invested sponsors who all want to be a part of the solution,” says Weyer.
As such the focus of Harry Gwala Agri is actually to initiate in addition to also support household-level food security projects, to strengthen agricultural-related education by establishing in addition to also assisting student internship programmes, in addition to also to partner with commercial farmers, including beneficiaries of the land reform process, through the establishment of mentorship relationships in addition to also the garnering of support by the business sector.
Current projects supported by the organisation include an internship in-service training programme for agricultural students at Esayidi College in Umzimkulu, placed by Harry Gwala Agri on local farms within the surrounding district that has a monthly stipend sourced by sponsors.
Another project, which began as a Highflats farmer assisting an employee to grow vegetables on her garden plot in Mazabekweni, a neighbouring community, has grown to include over 50 households with the same approach of sharing knowledge in addition to also expertise spreading to neighbouring communities in addition to also has seen the birth of a similar project in Umzimkulu.
Mentorship is actually a vital component of the Harry Gwala Agri focus in addition to also one such project is actually the Celokuhle Timber Dairy Farm Trust in Swartberg which under the mentorship of a local farmer is actually currently milking over 80 cows, has 239 head of cattle, grows timber in addition to also through the support of the Agribusiness Development Agency has seen the development of a brand-new dairy in addition to also a pivot irrigation system.
Proud farmer Gehla Mngoma amongst his cabbage crop.
Another successful mentorship project involves a dairy milking 150 cows on a 0-hectare farm in Donnybrook where a 10-year-old mentorship between an aspiring farmer in addition to also a neighbouring commercial farmer is actually proof which with support, the sharing of knowledge in addition to also expertise, commercial farmers are vital within the land reform process.
Another project involves the implementation of an irrigation scheme for a Hlutankungu vegetable farmer who approached Harry Gwala Agri for assistance. The organisation sourced sponsorship by agri-businesses to cover the costs of the scheme in addition to also paired the farmer that has a neighbouring farmer to provide mentorship.
“Mentorship is actually crucial in addition to also we desire in time more in addition to also more commercial farmers see the value in what we are trying to do. Building relationships between these farmers, aspiring farmers, with people in government in addition to also additional key agricultural role players, in addition to also then facilitating these relationships in order to improve the lives of those in agriculture, is actually at the heart of Harry Gwala Agri,” said Weyer.
CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Kwanalu, Sandy La Marque commended the organisation for its proactive approach in addition to also positive attitude in taking national priorities such as education in addition to also food security, in addition to also turning the tide of the local economy through tangible actions.
“The fact which commercial farmers have without question been willing to go far in addition to also beyond the extra mile without hesitation shows the commitment to playing a key role in land reform in addition to also agrarian transformation. What is actually needed is actually partners who are willing to commit their resources – financial in addition to also additional to ensure which transformation can grow in addition to also be replicated throughout the province,” said La Marque.
For further information on Kwanalu, visit www.kwanalu.co.za
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