In the sun-kissed corners of South Africa, where community spirit runs deep, a quiet revolution is taking root. Driven by the simple yet profound belief in the power of agriculture, Dr Innocent Sirovha, the CEO of AgriSETA, has ignited a movement that is slowly but surely transforming households, churches, and lives across the nation.
His vision, encapsulated in the words “One household, one garden. One church, one garden, one school, one garden” resonates with the fundamental truth that the seeds of change are often sown in our own backyards.
This initiative, he emphasises, “is not just about growing crops; it’s about cultivating self-reliance, community resilience, and a deep respect for the land that sustains us all.”
For Sirovha, the initiative is a reminder that change starts at home, within the communities that form the backbone of our society. Having grown up in the Khakhanwa village in Venda, Limpopo, he realised from a young age that households, churches and schools in rural communities should cultivate their own food gardens.
“Ensuring food security at the grassroots level is paramount,” he said. “By empowering them to grow their own fresh produce, we are not only addressing hunger but also promoting economic independence and community resilience.”
Cultivating food gardens and agricultural education
Sirovha further underscored the economic empowerment aspect, stating, “Cultivating food gardens provides an opportunity for families to save money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing vegetables and fruits. Additionally, surplus produce can be sold in local markets or even to each other, creating a value chain that is often found in the township communities. These efforts create small-scale economic opportunities for these communities.”
He further emphasised, “Every rural school in South Africa should have agriculture as a subject. As AgriSETA, we have put aside R49.6 million for bursaries at agricultural colleges. We don’t want to be a very good English-speaking country, but very hungry.”
Health, sustainability and hope
Ever heard the buzzword “organic”? AgriSETA’s CEO explains that fresh, homegrown produce is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
By consuming a diverse range of vegetables and fruits from their gardens, community members can improve their overall health and well-being. This is particularly vital for children, pregnant women, and the elderly, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients for proper growth and development.
He also underscored the environmental sustainability aspect, stating, “Encouraging local food production reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting goods over long distances. Moreover, when households and churches practice organic or sustainable farming methods, they contribute to preserving the environment.”
Sirovha drives the “One household, one garden. One School, One church, one garden” in his capacity. This, he said, is based on his fundamental belief that “in every garden, there is a story of growth and resilience. Similarly, in every human being, there is untapped potential waiting to blossom. Our role is to provide the right environment and resources for this growth.”
After all, in nurturing hands, the future of agriculture is being shaped.
“My initiative isn’t just about planting seeds; it’s about planting hope, empowerment, and a legacy of agricultural excellence,” Sirovha explained. “Our collective efforts today will blossom into a harvest of prosperity for generations to come.”
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