Date:25 December 2016 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo
A unique partnership agreement between a community-owned farm in Tshakhuma and the University of Venda, may save many jobs and may also turn these troublesome farms into productive food-producing units again.
The Tshakhuma Community Farms made the headlines the past year for the wrong reasons. These farms, given back to the community by government through the land restitution programme, fell in disarray. Most of them collapsed due to lack of finances and what others say is a lack of proper management. Many jobs were lost and workers have stopped working and have taken their employers to the CCMA.
One of the farms, the Tshakhuma Barotta Farm, may have a more positive story to tell. The University of Venda’s business wing, the Univen Innovative Growth Company, recently signed a partnership agreement with the community owning this farm. The farm, which produces bananas and macadamia among others, was lying idle for some time.
The partnership was officially launched at the farm on Thursday, 8 December. Among those who witnessed the historic partnership were Univen principal, Professor Peter Mbati, Chief Mukandangalwo Madzivhandila, Cllr Grace Mahosi who represented Thulamela municipality, Cllr Mavhungu Lerule of Vhembe and UICG Chair, Patjane Moloisane.
Speaking during the official opening, Cllr Mavhungu Leruli Ramakhanya, who is the acting Vhembe district mayor, said the reopening of the farm and the partnership between Tshakhuma community and Univen was one of the best things to have happened in the district this year. “The partnership that has been forged between the university and the community will not only contribute to the economic development of our district, but would also ease the burden of unemployment. More so this would ensure food security,” she said.
Traditional leader, Chief Mukandangalwo Madzivhandila, said that they have been battling for some time and their approaching the University of Venda for assistance was a step in the right direction. “We are looking forward to a long lasting and good working relationship with the university. As for the other farms - we have ambitious plans in the pipeline that we cannot divulge now. Soon all the farms will be up and operating and all workers will get their jobs back,” he said.
UIGC chairperson Patjane Moloisane said they are very excited about the partnership. “It does not end here. As a company we are looking at other business opportunities like mining. Here we will be happy if we could start processing some of our produce,” he said.
Univen principal, Professor Peter Mbati called on partners to come on board to ensure the success of the venture. He said academics and researchers will be involved in the farm while students will also benefit as they will get practical training there.
Barrota staff, the Univen principal, the Vhembe and Thulamela mayors and other officials showing off the produce from the farm.
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.