The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Minister Senzeni Zokwana says the nominees and recipients of this year’s Youth in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (YAFF) awards is proof that the youth are interested in these sectors.
“We must remove the myth that the youth don’t like to dirty their hands in agriculture, it depends what position and platforms do we create. Sometimes as old people we think it is about taking a shovel and digging, it is not.
“It is a science that needs young people. It is about new technology and innovation. When you speak of drones, robotics and others, you speak of science and you speak of the youth,” said Zokwana.
The Minister was speaking at the YAFF awards ceremony, which is an initiative established by DAFF in 2016 to recognise and celebrate young people in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The YAFF awards seek to encourage youth participation in these sectors to bridge the gap of ageing producers while reducing unemployment and poverty.
The black tie affair was attended, among others, by the DAFF Deputy Minister Sfiso Buthelezi, Labour Deputy Minister Inkosi Patekile Holomisa and industry stakeholders such as AgriSA Legal Adviser Yolisa Mfaise and Oceana Group Executive Norma Teyise.
Landiswa Diniso walked away with the Special Ministerial Award for young entrepreneur living with a disability at the award ceremony on Friday night.
“I am very happy that I won. The prize money will really assist my business. I believe farming is important because being a farmer at a young age I have been able to create job opportunities for unemployed youth.
“I am also able to sell to my community and make money for myself as well,” said an elated Diniso who received a cash prize of R50 000.
The 28 year-old is the sole owner of Landiswa Diniso Livestock Enterprise located in Burgersdorp north of the Eastern Cape Province.
Although Diniso was born with a disability in her left leg, she never allowed her disability to limit her from attaining her goals.
Diniso grew up on a farm and when she left for the township, her uncle gave her a calf. She kept her calf in commonage and in 2015 the cow had a calf.
She received support from the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the form of fodder and goats.
To date, the enterprise has grown to a herd of 10 cattle, seven goats, eight pigs and a small patch where she plants vegetables for the household and sells the surplus to the local community.
The business enterprise has become a means of livelihood for Diniso and her family and she wishes to become a successful livestock farmer in the future.
Infrastructure challenge for young farmers
Thembinkosi Mdaka, 32, who is the co-owner of TMK Fresh Eggs located in Westonaria, Gauteng, took the top spot for the Agriculture award in the smallholder category.
The young professional accountant, who is a farmer at heart, holds 80% shares while his younger sister owns 20% of the business.
The business started its operation in 2013. It currently hosts three broiler houses with a carrying capacity of 3500 chickens producing about 3000 eggs per day. In 2017, the business produced about 1.2 million eggs.
The business employs four permanent people and supplies retailers such as Pick n Pay, informal shops, bakeries and the general public.
Mdaka said the biggest challenged he faced was infrastructure which holds the key to growing his business.
“In terms of funding, we have received minimal support from the government in terms of production input but we would prefer more infrastructure support to help us move on to the next level and become semi-commercial farmers,” he said.