MTHATHA – Eastern Cape rural development and agrarian reform MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, has handed over vegetable seeds, gardening implements, industrial sewing machines, poultry, and piggery feed to 33 women-owned co-operatives in Mqanduli in the OR Tambo district municipality.
Speaking in Mqanduli, Qoboshiyane said his department had a constitutional responsibility to use public funds to respond to the needs of the people by supporting them, especially rural communities and co-operatives, to produce their own income through agriculture and textile production.
“We identified women-led co-operatives and gave them the resources they requested from us. The most important thing for us is that if our people have information about how to access government services and support, they access them for their own development.
“It is important that people realise they are their own liberators from poverty and government can contribute and assist them in their efforts so that those efforts become a success. There are difficulties but it is important that people produce food to sell to the markets; those who can’t produce must buy from producers so that our province can grow,” he said.
Of the 33 co-operatives, eight received industrial sewing machines, overlockers, two 50-metre lengths of fabric, cotton, domestic machines, industrial irons, cutting tables, and display racks for the finished products, the department said in a statement.
Nokwakha Pali, a member of Siyathunga sewing co-operative, said they teamed up to teach each other sewing, making clothes for women, churches, and school uniforms.
“We are happy that the MEC gave us these industrial machines because previously we couldn’t put embroidery on our clothes and decorate the material we produced because the old Singer machines don’t have that capability. We also need a place to do our business and to teach some unemployed youth sewing so that they can earn an income and stay away from taverns and drugs,” said Pali.
Thirteen vegetable-producing co-operatives from Libonde, Port St Johns, Mhlontlo, and King Sabatha Dalindyebo received wheelbarrows, spades, fork spades, hand hoes, rakes, watering cans, potato seeds, green coronet cabbage, cremsome globe beetroot, ford hoek giant spinach, texas grano onion, walthum butternut, and carrot seeds to produce vegetables to be sold to local markets, including retail stores.
Seven pig farmers who had also called Qoboshiyane’s office for help to feed their pigs received ten 40kg bags of pig growth, yellow maize, bran wheat, and creep feed.
Pig farmer Ntomboxolo Habe of Saints of Primary co-operative said they asked for help with pig feed, medicine, and assistance to build a piggery structure.
“This feed from government will help us improve the condition of our pigs to be good for all markets, including retail markets. This will help us grow our herd so that we make more money. We thank government for responding to our call for support because we started this piggery project to create jobs for some of the unemployed youth so that they don’t end up doing crime,” said Habe.
Three poultry farmers received ten 50kg bags of broiler starter, finisher, post, and chicken feed yellow maize, and 200 one-day-old broiler chicks.
Nothemba Mdunyelwa, a Mqanduli poultry farmer who started her poultry production in 2013, said she used to struggle because some of her customers did not pay her money for the chicks, so she then decided to write to government for help with her poultry production.
“I wrote to the department asking for support to help with my business because I was struggling. I produce broiler chicks and sell both chicks and chickens to the locals. My poultry business helps me to provide for and educate my children and I live a better life because of this business. My life has been different ever since I started this business. I am very excited for getting this support from government,” said Mdunyelwa.