A young female farmer from Brits has been chosen as one of nine finalists in the SAB KickStart programme that invests in high potential farming businesses, and assiting with technology that will grow the businesses and create lasting employment.
Amanda Mpabanga owner of Mabogo Dinku Agricultural Co-Op , has been growing spinach and other vegetables such as beetroot, spring onions and green beans since 2018 on her 37.2 hectares farm near Brits.
The cooperative supplies spinach and spring onion to FoodLovers in Greenstone and spring onion to Pick n Pay in Brits. “I have always been a vegetable gardener, but in a very limited space. I then decided to become a farmer to supply my family and others with fresh vegetables and make a living out of it as well,” she says
Amanda believes in sustainable development. “I love the process of growing food from seed to consumable product.
The science of seed-sprouting, germinating and becoming a product to be consumed is what excites me about farming. People think that being a farmer means wearing overalls and gumboots. I often get people asking me “You a farmer?” when I introduce myself because I look different to what they think farmers are supposed to look like,”she laughs.
Amanda currently employs seven people and hopes to employ more as the business grows. She is now part of the 2019 SAB Urban Agriculture Programme, where she hopes to learn how to be consistent in supplying good quality produce and to build a strong rapport with her customers.
The 15-month business development programme provides participants with technical and operational training, hydroponic infrastructure investment, industry-based mentorship, as well as market access. It is aimed at youth entrepreneurs between 18 and 35.
With Stats SA in October revealing that unemployment was at its highest level in 11 years, the programme aims to help create jobs through youth-owned farms. Black African women are the most vulnerable, facing an unemployment rate of 34.5%, compared to black men with an unemployment rate of 31.3%.
“We are happy that five out of the nine finalists are young black women,” said Phumzile Chifunyise, enterprise development manager, SAB and AB InBev Africa.
“As an organisation that is embedded in agriculture, our intention is to attract young people to the sector by alleviating the high barriers to entry such as technical and operational resources.” The finalists will complete the programme in December 2020.