Bekker High School and Mutual & Federal boosts community project

The Tswelopele community farming project, launched in April 2012 by the Bekker Agricultural High School, Mutual & Federal and Kops Communications & Projects recently had its first commercial harvest and sale.

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The project, situated near the town of Magaliesburg west of Johannesburg, was initiated to assist a community of about 55 households who live on the school property. “The community is made up of the school general staff and their families of which some are unemployed,” said Laurien Comyn, Head Corporate Business Responsibility. According to Comyn, although still in its infancy, the project employed five full time workers from the community and several others on a seasonal basis.

Bekker Agricultural High School donated 3ha land to the community of about 250 people to start the project, which was aimed at creating employment and improving their livelihoods. The school also provided water and electricity to the project, as well as on-going technical and practical support. Mutual & Federal assisted by funding the project to the value of R1 million.

Currently the project produced vegetables and broiler chickens. About 11 000 cabbages have already been harvested and marketed, with the majority going to the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market and the Bekker High School. According to Kopano Lebethe of Kops Communications, the proceeds from the sale of produce will be used to further develop the project into a functioning enterprise.

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Lebethe, who was also the project manager, said a quarter of the land will be reserved for the 55 families. “Each will be allocated 16m2 on which they can plant four out of the seven crops identified as suitable for the location,” said Lebethe. “We are in the process of buying seedlings for the next crops which will produce 15 000 cabbages,” he said. Lebethe said they will also add beetroot, carrots, sweet potato and spinach in the next planting season.