UKZN Enactus Team Recognised for Innovative Farming App
The UMtate WamaBovu project of the UKZN Enactus team has introduced an innovative App called Kandu which they believe is the solution to many problems faced by farmers in uMsinga in KwaZulu-Natal.
This innovation which seeks to make farming in uMsinga viable by increasing production and efficiencies while involving the youth, creating job opportunities for women and the disabled and boosting income, won the UKZN team a place on the shortlist of eight finalists competing in the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards (BSIYA).
From a survey conducted in the area by Enactus UKZN, more than 70% of farmers are above the age of 50 and their highest education level is Grade 7. Most farmers have up to eight unemployed household dependents.
The UMtate WamaBovu project involves more than 165 members and promotes gender equality. It is run on 66ha of land with healthy soil and sufficient water sources allowing emerging farmers to grow a wide variety of crops including potatoes, maize, tomatoes, beans, chillies, cabbages, and green peppers.
Enactus UKZN team leader Mr Lungelo Gabela says the team plans to introduce Kandu to potential customers so they are able to place orders online without going to the farm. When clients or the customers pay after the produce has been delivered, the secure payment option it offers goes directly through the farmer’s cell phone, eliminating delays of payment by the customer. This system can further assist in increasing the revenue of farmers and decreasing wastage of left over stock.
‘We believe our new Kandu App will be a solution to the struggles of the farmers by bringing new opportunities for large growth and sustainability,’ said Gabela. ‘We have started introducing this new technology to rural emerging farmers by showing them how it can increase their revenue through acquiring more customers - wholesalers, retailers, supermarkets and individuals - who will buy their produce once they become aware of it.’
‘Though the uMsinga area is saturated with a large supply of crops from many different farmers, their expenses - seeds, fertilisers, tractor hire, labour and electricity costs - exceed income as one of their greatest struggles is not having access to markets to sell their produce,’
‘In addition, many farmers lack knowledge or the means to approach markets, retailers and wholesalers outside the uMsinga area. Farmers are also in need of important infrastructure like harvest processing hubs, trucks and tractors,’ said Gabela.
The team first worked with the municipality to pay the farmers’ electricity debt of R156 000, installing solar panels which are cheaper in the long run, more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Another challenge they wanted to address was increasing participation from the youth in uMsinga where unemployment is high.
This project is not only aligned with the National Development Plan and Integrated Development Plan, but addresses goals 1, 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Said Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at Barloworld, Mr Sibani Mngomezulu: ‘Barloworld seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of our broader society.
‘In supporting Enactus, we are able to play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging young people to improve lives and strengthen communities, and developing responsible leadership,’ said Mngomezulu.
Words by: UKZNDabaOnline