Innovative Climate Smart Youth Tunnel Program Has Transformed Lives of Aspiring Agripreneurs

Protective farming and agribusinesses are two promising sectors for young people in the 21st century.

They offer opportunities for income generation, environmental sustainability, and social impact. However, many young people lack the skills, knowledge, and resources to enter these fields.

That’s why the Woman Farmer Foundation created the Innovative Climate Smart Youth Tunnel Production Training Programme.

The Foundation works with experts in agriculture, financial institutions and other partners to provide a holistic course on protective farming which covers both theory and practical lessons.

In this article, we profile some of the participants who completed the three-month training and share their stories on how the program has helped them.

Name: Lindelwa Msimango

Community: Lamgabhi (Bhunya)

Education: Permaculture Design Course (PDC), Guba

Enterprise: She aspires to grow chillies and vegetables

Why she joined: I love farming, but my problem was that I lacked information on farming and how to grow my own crops. I had also heard about tunnels, and I was curious about how they work, what one would grow there and why.

Her key Takeaway: When I joined the program, I thought I couldn’t work well in a team and that I was shy. However, being part of the program, I saw a different side of myself, and I learned to be more sociable. I joined to learn about tunnels and came out with so much more. I learned about agribusiness, good agricultural practices (Global GAP) and how to keep business records to track the progress of a business.

How She Grew: The program opened my mind to so many things. I came here because I wanted to grow my business. The program taught me that everything I do requires commitment instead of just doing things for the sake of it.

Her Message to the Youth: Woman Farmer Foundation is our home. I want others to go there and experience what we did. The foundation truly changes the lives of young people.

Name: Temakholo Tsabedze

Community: Malkerns

Education: BSc Agronomy, UNESWA

Enterprise: She was a vegetable farmer until the land she was using was repossessed.

Why she joined: I have first-hand experience of the effects of climate change which really affected my business. I wanted to learn better ways of farming to protect myself as a farmer from suffering a similar fate again.

Her key Takeaway: Record everything- from writing your business plan to the time you start working. It helps to see where you went wrong and to make sure that you are still on track with your plans. I also got to network with young people and different businesses. I have since started attending other programs from the connections I made with Woman Farmer Foundation. Lastly, I learned the importance of personal branding- to go out there and make a name for yourself.

How She Grew: It opened my eyes to the places and people I can run to when I lack certain resources and need help. I also saw that there is life out there. You just need to get up and make that first step to get what you want.

Her Message to the Youth: Development and technology are part of all jobs and there are many opportunities in agriculture. Food insecurity is increasing and soon everyone will need to know a little bit about agriculture to sustain themselves. As young people we need to learn about agriculture and adapt to the changing climate to sustain ourselves, our communities, and families.

Name: Wandile Mdluli

Community: Siphocosini

Education: Form 5, chose to gain work experience first

Enterprise: He aspires to incorporate innovation into agribusiness

Why he joined: Many other programs require you to have a background in agriculture, so this one was accessible. I also joined to network with like-minded individuals and share knowledge with other young people so we may help each other broaden the way we think. I wanted to be exposed to new ways of doing agriculture and new ways of thinking.

His key takeaway: When I enter a space, I always like to do my research and be clear on what it is that I want to gain. So going through the program really added to the knowledge that I had and even introduced me to new knowledge. Meeting representatives from different companies and hearing from them directly was mind blowing. I also learned that it is not good to limit your thinking- one must expose themselves to new ways of thinking.

How he grew: I have always been the person to do things on my own or with people who think like me. The program showed me that you do not always need to surround yourself with people like yourself, but being exposed to different types of people can really broaden your thinking and expose you to new perspectives. I also learned to interact with people better. I learned that there is no limit to what one can achieve and learn- there is always something more.

Her Message to the Youth: It helps to step into spaces that you don’t have knowledge in but a vision of something you could possibly do. Sharpen our mind-set on the things you know and build new knowledge where you don’t know- this is the way to advance your way of thinking.

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