A KZN government R100m injection into a sustainable farming project aims to create more than 700 sustainable jobs, 60-percent of them for women. Farming is not an alien skill for women, as is evidenced by successful garlic farmer Molly Nikelo seen walking through her fields in Nieu-Bethesda in the Eastern Cape. Picture: REUTERS
A KZN government R100m injection into a sustainable farming project aims to create more than 700 sustainable jobs, 60-percent of them for women. Farming is not an alien skill for women, as is evidenced by successful garlic farmer Molly Nikelo seen walking through her fields in Nieu-Bethesda in the Eastern Cape. Picture: REUTERS

Poor female KwaZulu-Natal farmers, youth and disadvantaged groups are set to benefit from the provincial government's R100m injection into a sustainable farming project whose aim is to create more than 700 sustainable jobs and feed more than 10,000 people.

The “planting season project” will be launched on October 23 in KwaMachi, near the town of Harding in the south of KwaZulu-Natal, by premier Willies Mchunu and MEC for agriculture and rural development Themba Mthembu.

The department said 60% of the beneficiaries would be women and the rest would be co-operatives owned by the youth and other disadvantaged groups.

Beneficiaries will be mentored by trained farmers and and other agricultural technicians, so that their projects will be sustainable over a long period of time and they will be able to derive income from selling the fruit and vegetables they will produce.

Beneficiaries will be also given soft loans, seeds, fertiliser and machinery and their produce will be bought by government departments for hospitals, schools and other facilities.

Mthembu's spokesperson, Phathiswa Mfuyo, said that after the launch in KwaMachi her department would visit other districts in the province to launch similar initiatives.

She said the aim was to turn rural areas into centres of economic activities. The department will target 16,310ha throughout the province during this  financial year. Officials will visit each district and identify co-operatives, and these beneficiaries will be given full mentorship support until they are self-sustainable, Mfuyo said.

“We are very enthusiastic about this project. Through the multi-planting season programme, almost 500 jobs are envisaged to be created through various services including but not limited to tractor operators, crop management and harvesting services, etc.”  

Mfuyo said agriculture used to be the backbone of the rural economy.

“Women are traditional breadwinners and are taking care of their families. By giving them opportunities we will be uplifting families out of poverty. That is why women will be the key focus of this project, and co-operatives run and operated by the youth."