A hundred farmers from Zingquthu village in Komani, Eastern Cape, are overjoyed with the new shearing shed and equipment they received from rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nonkqubela Pieters. The minister handed over infrastructure worth more than R1 million to the members of the Sibonile Nkonkobe Shearing Shed.
The facilities were built last year using money from the department’s 2020/2021 budget and has a shearing shed with equipment, as well as small stock dipping and animal handling facilities.
Speaking at the official handover, Pieters said the department had invested over R5 million in the building of six shearing sheds and had provided eight others with shearing equipment, all within the Chris Hani district.
Pieters urged farmers to guard the new facilities jealously. “This is going to give you wealth and improve your lives. If you let this become vandalised you will lose out on the benefits of developing your area.”
Pieters encouraged the young people of Zingquthu to venture into agriculture-related studies, adding that agro-processing was a key focus area. “Youth should be getting into the agricultural value chain and make more money. This is an investment and we want to see returns. Treat farming as a business; this is where wealth is.”
She added that the department had set aside about R14 million for development in the new financial year, in the Enoch Mgijima Municipality alone.
‘We had no equipment’
The chairperson of the shearing shed, Thezaphi Fose, said the project members included 45 women, 24 men, three people living with disabilities and 28 young people. They were very excited about the investment.
“We work well together. We are forever thankful for this assistance. Our wool is no longer the same and the quality has shown [tremendous] improvement.”
Treasurer Nokwakha Mbalo told of long travel distances as they had had to use a shearing shed in another village before. “The distance was tiring and there were times you came back with your sheep not having been sheared because we were overcrowded. With this new shed, we feel honoured because we were struggling before.
“Our sheep were even dying, but now we are smiling. Previously we used our own houses with no proper equipment and that compromised the quality of our wool.”
Mbhalo said they had started using the shed last year already. They had sold the wool from 3 066 sheep to BKB and made more than R380 000. “We are hoping to get more money now that we are using this shed with top-of-the-range equipment. We are calling for unity amongst farmers. This is our inheritance and we love that our children have joined us. We also have disabled people involved here.”
Speaking on behalf of the young farmers, Sonwabile Mbhalo said that they were excited too. “We have learned a lot about having this structure here. It has played a big role to ensure the youth is not involved in criminal activities and drugs.”
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