R1.5 million irrigation system to boost vegetable farmers

R1.5 million irrigation system to boost vegetable farmers

Vegetable farmers in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, are set to increase their agricultural productivity and income, thanks to a brand-new irrigation system received from the Provincial Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Department.

Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC, Nonkqubela Pieters handed over an irrigation system worth R1. 5 million to vegetable farmers at Nonkobe in Orange Grove village, Mthatha, in a bid to support the enterprise to access formal markets.

The enterprise has 24 members, including 18 females and six young people producing a variety of vegetables.

Pieters said the department has invested a total of R2,7 million to ensure the enterprise has good agricultural activities (GAP) certification that will allow them to sell their products to supermarkets and other places.

The enterprise was originally assisted by the Department of Social Development in 2006 and was converted from a farrow irrigation system to a sprinkler irrigation system.

Pieters said the department’s investment will ensure that all 17 hectares used by the enterprise will be irrigated and fenced, while storage facilities will be constructed.

The department will also assist the farmers with water rights application.

Pieters commended the active involvement of young people in the enterprise, noting it will ensure the continuity of the enterprise.

“We urge young people to understand that farming is a credible source of income. We want to motivate you so that this enterprise can reach commercial stages,” Pieters said.

To show their commitment, the members bought two diesel engines that amounted to R500 000 from their produce.

Enterprise Chairperson, Walter Mnqwazi described the department’s investment as a game changer for their enterprise, noting that the youth is now showing interest in joining the enterprise.

“Since the installation of the irrigation system, we have seen a huge difference. We have increased our production, and our income has also increased,” Mnqwazi said.

While serving both the formal and informal market, Mnqwazi said the enterprise has well established ties with Kei Fresh Produce Market.

Local headman, Msindise Mdemka commended the government for the assistance, saying the tools of trade will make an enormous impact in the development of the area.

The MEC also handed over vegetable seedling, fertilisers, and knapsack to assist the enterprise to spread pesticides in their field. – SAnews.gov.za