MANZINI- A farming project sponsored to the tune of E1.2 million is already bearing fruit for the youth of Lundzi.
The project was initiated in July last year and the youth has shared their success story on how they came together and successfully utilised the money.
The project was set up to empower the youth to sustainably play a role in the food industry and earn income through diversified climate resilient agricultural technologies.
The lucrative donation was made possible by Eswatini MTN and Swaziland Empowerment Limited together with the National Marketing and Agricultural Board (NAMBOARD).
The project has produced a fairly good first cycle of tomato crop, the total production was 5.73 tons against an expected 7.5 tons, and this was a 70 per cent achievement.
The youth group made E 40 000 which is expected to triple in subsequent years.
During a handover of the project at Lundzi Umphakatsi last Thursday, it was revealed that only E16 000 was shared as profit whilst the rest is kept in a bank account and is currently financing the current planting season’s inputs.
The profit was further used to grow the team which is now made up of 18 hard working members.
“We managed to grow tonnes of tomatoes and sold them to the National Marketing and Agricultural Board (NAMBOARD),” said Xolile Mndzebele.
In a two-year long mentorship with NAMBOARD, the youth has received the pack house where they store their produce.
Attending last week’s event was Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza who, as a form of encouragement, gifted the young farmers with close to E2 000 to divide among themselves.
“Work hard until you do not have to work anymore. I’m giving you this money to encourage you guys to keep keeping on,” said Mabuza.
Also speaking at the event was NAMBOARD CEO Siphephiso Dlamini who said farming was the right way to go especially for the youth.
“Agriculture is an essential driver of economic development and Agribusiness is an area of great opportunity for young people in Eswatini.
New opportunities with new kinds of technologies are being pursued with intent to ultimately achieve food security in the Kingdom,” said Dlamini.
Dlamini further emphasised that the future of food production was very much dependent on the growth of youth participation in the sector.
“As NAMBOARD, we are positioning agribusiness as a solution for the future. We are aware that Eswatini has a competitive advantage in some crops, which we are currently up scaling as they will benefit young farmers,” said Dlamini.
Speaking on behalf of the Eswatini Empowerment Limited was Shaka Ndlangamandla who said they were hopeful that great results would come from the project.
“A patient development of the industry in the country is imperative to ensure that key efficiencies are acquired to enable Swazi farmers to compete against the best in the market. I know this is possible, and it will be achieved,” said Ndlangamandla.
A litany of speakers emphasised on the importance of farming and how it will help keep the youth of Lundzi busy.
Meanwhile, Mhlambanyatsi MP and Speaker in the House of Assembly Petros Mavimbela said the project would also help in reviving the economy and help with the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lundzi has become a model for this project they are supposed to take it through and all the way. They will also greatly help in reviving the economy,” said Mavimbela.
On another note, Eswatini MTN CEO, Wandile Mtshali said as a company they were proud with the outcome of the project.
“We are proud and we would love to see more of it. We are happy to have played a role in empowering the youth.
We had really not anticipated such great outcome,” said Mtshali.
In addition he said in order for the project to succeed they needed to make sure they do away with corruption and laziness.
The CEO also shared that the network company currently had one million customers and about 700 000 subscribers on their Mobile Money platform.
Minister Mabuza also took time to plead with the telecommunications to invest more in farming projects.
“I have seen your work and the huge investments made to projects but can you invest more in farming. If more investments were made we would stop importing,” said Mabuza addressing Mtshali.
The minister then took time to advice the youth on farming as a source of income. He shared that Lundzi Youth was lucky to have had sponsors.
LUNDZI-Minister OF Agriculture and Pigg’s Peak Member of Parliament Jabulani Mabuza has shared that he loved and appreciated being an MP.
Mabuza said he loved the people of Pigg’s Peak and the constituency as a whole.
“Listen, being an MP is not a talent but it is a job, a job that people entrust you with. I have been lucky because the people have entrusted me twice,” said Mabuza.
Mabuza said he was always ready to do right by the people and use them as a vehicle to a greater and peaceful country.
“Not only am I an MP, my elders further appointed me as a minister and such achievements I do not take lightly,” said Mabuza.
Meanwhile, Indvuna Yekhundla Daniel Mngomezulu said despite the good project happening for the community they still had other challenges.
Mngomezulu said in the month of May they lost 20 cows which were stolen and transported to neighbouring South Africa.
“We have a serious problem, our cows are stolen every day,” said Mngomezulu.
He said the problem was bigger than them because the youth was now involved in smuggling the cows to the boarder.
“A huge number of the youth is now part of the syndicate stealing cows and they get paid for it so this problem is far from over,” said Mngomezulu.