On a hot Highveld summer, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo, and the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development, Cllr Eunice Mgcina, launched the R34 million Eikenhof farm programme this week.
It’s almost a decade since the ground at Eikenhof was first tilled by a group of mostly women small-scale farmers. Today the land produces organic vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, spinach and cucumber.
Eikenhof farm forms part of the City’s strategy to reduce food insecurity, poverty and unemployment. The City with the assistance of strategic partners such as United Way have ensured that the emerging farmers are trained and accredited. Today the farmers provide vegetables to large corporate canteens and retail stores.
“The success of the farm is particularly important as Eikenhof falls under region G, which is one of the poorest regions in the City. Studies indicate that about 56% of households in areas like Orange Farm, Alexandra and the inner city are food insecure,” said MMC Mgcina.
Tintswalo Makhubele, a 57-year-old emerging farmer and a mother of four, says the farm assisted her to send her eldest daughter to the university. Her daughter is now a qualified accountant.
Farming is truly a labour of love that requires hard work, dedication and perseverance. “We start to work in the farm as early as 5am every day. We take small breaks at midday because it becomes unbearable to work under the sweltering sun. We then resume work in the afternoon when it gets a bit cooler,” said Makhubele.
The next step for the emerging farmers is to become commercial farmers through the adoption of better production technology that improves the level of output and income.
Mayor Makhubo praised the farmers for joining the war on poverty and ensuring that there is food security in the City. “I’m encouraged by the number of farmers here today. With farmers working the land and the good rains on our side, I’m confident that we will defeat hunger in the City. It’s you farmers who are going to feed the nation,” said Mayor Makhubo.