Nearly 600 subsistence and communal farmers in Gauteng and Limpopo received input vouchers from the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) and the Land Network National Engagement Strategy in South Africa (LandNNESS).
The vouchers, which were handed over on Saturday, were sourced from the Solidarity Fund, a rapid response vehicle to help South Africans with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund has approved R75 million for input voucher interventions to assist farmers, and also to open up the agricultural sector to new players.
Proudly supported by AFASA
“As they say, teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” said Thoko Gladys Nhlabathi, AFASA’s Ekurhuleni regional coordinator.
She told Food For Mzansi with the vouchers, valued at R2 000 each, farmers can purchase garden input tools and poultry starter packs.
According to Ntuthu Mbiko-Motshegoa, AFASA chairperson of the national women’s desk and LandNNESS convener, it ensures that farmers can continue to produce food, and also prevents households from being pushed into a poverty trap.
“This is a food security programme where we encourage women to extend their natural talent of being feeders to the next level, commercialising their ability and a collective effort to change livelihood while encouraging farming,” said Mbiko-Motshegoa.
Finding purpose in farming
Maikaheng Moeling (56) is one of the beneficiaries from Ekurhuleni Customer Care Centre. She suffered a stroke in 2001, and subsequently struggled to financially support her family. Despite her health scare, she is currently farming while walking in crutches and only using one hand.
Moeling has been using an open space at the Katlehong Community Clinic to farm tomatoes, spinach, cabbages and onions since 2017. She does not see her disability as an obstacle, but an opportunity to motivate other people with disabilities to find purpose and substance in farming.
Moeling redeemed her R2 000 voucher to purchase seedlings. An excited Moeling told Food For Mzansi the voucher will help her recover from losses suffered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
AFASA specifically chose small-scale farmers that have a future in farming and with an ability to grow THEIR ENTERPRISES.
Another recipient is Mpoyi Mthethwa (63), an up-and-coming vegetable and livestock farmer. The grandmother of ten retired in 2019. She used the pandemic to start farming in her own backyard. Currently, she has five sheep and 12 goats.
For Mthethwa, Moeling and many others, the vouchers resemble a safety net with which they can feed their families through agriculture. “I am happy I got overalls and safety boots. Now I will be able to fully explore and grow my farm,” said Mthethwa.