Southern Africa: Military Veterans Break New Ground to Set Up Agricultural Co-Op in Eastern Cape


A communal farming project is offering residents of poverty-stricken Libode village a way out.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Hit by difficult economic times and a provincial unemployment rate hovering around 47%, the Libode district in the OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape is a tough place to live.

Most people in the area feed their families by subsistence farming on communal land, and a six-year-old agricultural project run by a group of military veterans is helping to make a difference in their fight against poverty and desperation.

The Iringa Multipurpose Co-Operative, run by veterans of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK)and other military organisations, was set up in 2015.

Jongilizwe Mbovane, the chair of the co-operative, said the project began with five military veterans assisting learners around Libode with school uniforms.

"Then we started this farming project with the OR Tambo District Municipality, Potatoes South Africa and the Department of Agriculture to fight poverty. Our traditional leader managed to give us 267ha of land," Mbovane said.

The project supplies local supermarkets with potatoes and is monitored by the Kei Fresh Produce Market, Potatoes SA, the municipality and other stakeholders.

"We are still struggling in terms of...

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