A revolutionary shift is germinating in the ground of Marapyane, Mpumalanga. The youth-run agricultural cooperative Bakgatla Grain Project is producing a bountiful harvest of both food and optimism for the neighbourhood.
Planting the Flag for Change
The Bakgatla Grain Project is in the vanguard of the fight against poverty and unemployment, having emerged from a desire to help the community and, in particular, underprivileged women and young people. The six-person youth team carefully grows maize on 74 hectares and sunflowers on 53 hectares of land, and they’re getting ready to expand their vegetable production with new funding from the government.
Thembi Kola, the co-op’s director, has said, “The love for farming, the need to employ those less privileged, and the passion for producing healthy, organic food are what inspired us to start the co-op.”
For the members of the co-op, working together for the greater good is as important as farming. “If we put our heads and hands together, we’ll never go hungry,” says Kola, echoing the ubuntu philosophy popularised by former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Bakgatla Grain Project
The Bakgatla Grain Project has come a long way since it was first conceived in 2022. Excluding the six co-op members, 99 temporary employment have been made available. In addition, the co-op has established a value chain consisting of enthusiastic buyers for its goods.
The success of this initiative can be directly attributed to the assistance provided by the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, and Environmental Affairs. “They’ve had our back from the installation of a security fence through debuting, ploughing, planting, irrigation, and access to the market,” said a visibly appreciative Kola.
To Take a Stand Against Poverty and Joblessness
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane used her message to express gratitude to the community’s traditional leaders for working with the provincial government and the cooperative to reduce poverty and unemployment. “Only by working together can we conquer poverty and unemployment,” she said.
Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform, and rural development, agreed with her and urged citizens, especially those living in rural regions, to investigate potential careers in the agribusiness sector.
There’s more to the Bakgatla Grain Project than meets the eye. It’s an inspiring example of what young people can accomplish when they work together to improve their communities and seize available chances. Thembi Kola once said, “There’s life and wealth in agriculture,” and the success of the Bakgatla Grain Project is proof of that statement.
Is this the year you dig your hands into the rich, rewarding soil of agriculture? There has never been a better time to start cultivating, especially with efforts like the Bakgatla Grain Project paving the way.
About The Author:
Lunga Dlamini is a journalist specializing in African start-ups and entrepreneurship. Lunga’s fascination with innovative business models and emerging market trends guides his writing. He has an MBA and has been with Africa Nova since its inception.