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Beneficiary of the week: Vhu-matshelo Crop Farming

Lutendo Ramahala is a 28-year-old young man who believes that the farming industry is still dominated by the older generation and that needs more young people to be involved in the sector.

Lutendo and his five (5) partners identified an opportunity within the agricultural sphere, they collaborated to form Vhu-matshelo Crop Farming, a cooperative which specialises in growing butternut and carrot. The main objective was to create an environment wherein more young people can actively take part in agriculture and disprove the stereotype that farming is meant for old people, they wanted to demonstrate to other young people that success exists for youth within this space. The cooperative comprises of six (6) members; three (3) males and 3 females.
The need for extensive assistance and intervention from established organisations arose as the team’s vision broadened. Lutendo was thereafter introduced to the NYDA during its visit at the University of Venda where he inquired and later applied for funding for the cooperative. The cooperative received the NYDA Grant Fund to the value of R48 314.93 for equipment to assist with improving irrigation and the fence which ensured that production was conducted in secured premises.
Furthermore, the NYDA negotiated with the Local Municipality, on behalf of Vhu-matshelo Crop Farming to provide machinery for the cleaning of the thorn-covered vegetation which imposed challenges for the cooperative.
This establishment has thus created six (6) permanent jobs for its directors and is also instilling the culture of learning in the community as it is currently hosting a Level 2 plant production learnership for 14 students from Vhembe TVET College who are also earning a monthly stipend. In September 2016, the cooperative won a second runner-up prize in the agriculture and agro-processing category in the Eskom Business Investment Competition.
The cooperative wants to create more employment and market opportunities for farmers through agro-processing; growing of sunflower as a major crop in order to produce cooking oil and margarine.
“We should make farming a trend that will attract other young people, the industry needs more youth,” said Lutendo.