In agriculture, it often takes a village to have a real impact and Mhlengi Ngcobo, 24, understands this very well. For the greater good of his community, this self-taught farmer has made it his mission to expose young people and women to agriculture as a means of warding off unemployment and poverty.
Just four years into his agricultural journey of growing cash crops and maize, Ngcobo is already offering different ways to invest in his community and surrounding areas.
He achieves this in particular by opening his portfolio and his farm, and by reaching out to women and young people in disadvantaged villages and informal settlements to pass on all he knows about agriculture.
“I strongly believe that we can earn our economic freedom and maintain our livelihoods through agriculture.”
Exposing the younger generation
Recently, ngcobo held an event at his farm in Ndwedwe, a town in Ilembe District Municipality, where aspiring farmers flocked in large numbers.
The event provided training for attendees on farming using hydroponic systems as well as agribusiness. Attendees were also educated on the entrepreneurial side of farming, Ngcobo said.
“The main reason why I organized this [specific] event was that I wanted to give visibility to students studying agriculture.
“It was also about developing and empowering local youth, especially the unemployed. I wanted to help change the narrative of how black communities view agriculture. For a very long time, farming was seen as only suitable for a certain race or a certain gender,” he said.
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A heart for the people
This is not the first time that this young farmer has hosted an event of this kind. Before opening the doors of his farm to eager learners, Ngcobo would invite young people and house them in one of the local town halls.
“This time around, I wanted people to get a sense of what a farmer goes through on a day-to-day basis in terms of running the farm and the tasks involved.”
Ngcobo has been training young people and women from underprivileged villages and informal settlements for two years. He does it for free. The training is fully funded by his company, Iboyana Agri Farming.
With a heart for his community, it’s no wonder he received an award at the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Business Awards last year. Ngcobo was recognized as Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
“I am confident that we can gain our economic freedom and maintain our livelihoods through agriculture, as well as reduce high unemployment. The sector is vast, most people think [only as far as] seeds and soil. Through these training sessions, we also expose people to several opportunities in agriculture. »
And although the farmer is still far from commercial success, he is definitely one to watch.
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