‘We do support agriculture’ – youth development agency

The National Youth Development Agency said it has invested R5,9 million in primary agricultural businesses.

- Advertisement -

Countering claims that it has failed to develop the youth through agriculture, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) said it has invested R5,9 million in primary agricultural businesses and created 64 jobs in the sector since its inception in 2009.

Young farmers, however, are still not convinced. One of the NYDA’s critics is William Maseka, the Limpopo agriculture department’s Best Young Farmer for 2010. He accused the NYDA of not funding primary agriculture, and said the NYDA turned him away and told him it doesn’t fund primary agriculture because it is too risky.

However, the NYDA insisted that it is involved in agriculture. NYDA spokesperson Refilwe Mphane said that, for instance, the DMT Agricultural Services Cooperative has acquired funding from the NYDA.

- Advertisement -

“It is based in rural KZN and grows plants for essential oils and also has a vegetable farm,” she said. “In addition, MBM Poultry Breeder & Abattoir CC is a Limpopo-based poultry breeding business that acquired funding from the NYDA.”

However, Farmer’s Weekly could not find these two companies on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s database.

Rudzani Sadiki, a poultry farmer in Mokopane, Limpopo, said he had a similar experience to Maseka’s. “I’ve been at the offices and they told me they weren’t financing primary agricultural production because it was too risky.” – Peter Mashala

He added that the agency is doing nothing to uplift the rural youth in agriculture. Sadiki said the NYDA is not as visible as it claims to be. “As a poultry farmer, I know a lot of abattoirs in Limpopo, but I’ve never heard of MBM Poultry.”

Ramudzuli Mzwandile, a poultry farmer near Thohoyandou, said he tried and failed to finance his poultry feed business, The Feed Shed, through the agency. “I didn’t even get a reply from them,” he said. Mphane said the NYDA has decided to refocus its funding on micro-businesses in peri-urban and rural enterprises, and now has a Rural Development Unit under its Economic Development Division. She said the two focus areas for rural development are community development facilitation and co-operatives development.

She also claimed that the NYDA has expanded over the past two years, increasing its network to 144 access points across all provinces. But Zabile Mtshweni, a young farmer in Groblersdal in Limpopo, said he hasn’t seen any NYDA offices around the area. “I don’t know of any offices close to where we are,” he said.

The NYDA was recently in the news for allegedly wasting millions of rands of tax payers’ money by overpaying its staff, mostly ANC Youth League members. This prompted Makashule Gana, DA youth leader, and Nqaba Bhanga, COPE’s youth leader, to call on President Jacob Zuma to shut the agency down. – Peter Mashala

Also read:
Have you sent in your CV yet?
Time to kiss & tell