College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Unisa upskills local farmers to create food security and self-employment

Unisa recently signed a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Gompo Farmers Association (GFA) at Robbie de Lange Hall, Greenfields, East London. The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of Unisa's Eastern Cape Region and College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), 100 local farmers, representatives from the Provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Buffalo City Municipality, Traditional Leaders, and the private and public business sector.


Cheif Mthuthuzeli Makinana and Prof Monde Ntwasa

The MOU was signed by Prof Monde Ntwasa, Acting Executive Dean: CAES; Prof Linda Sibali, Director: School of Ecological and Human Sustainability from CAES, representing Unisa; Chief Mthuthuzeli: Makinana of Gompo Traditional Authority, and Prince Athi Mapasi, representing the Gompo Farmers Association.

The two parties committed to collectively advance learning and research opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness, including developing a model farm for sustainable agriculture and food security. Furthermore, the parties committed to advocating for the inclusion of the innovation capacity of Unisa through an accelerator system within the model farm, which will result in establishing a biogas digester plant to foster environment-friendly agribusiness.


From left: Chief Mthuthuzeli Makinana, Prince Athi Mapasi and Prof Linda Sibali singing the Memorandum of Understanding

Concepts such as local food use, backyard gardens, community gardens, farm-to-school, and environmental sustainability issues, such as minimising waste generation, will be covered. In addition, there will be a focus on Azola, a biofertiliser that can be used on various crops, animal feed, human food, medicine and as a water purifier, all of which will promote the objectives of the local and sustainable food procurement charter.

Motale Nkgoang, the Unisa Eastern Cape Regional Director and the partnership facilitator, provided an overview of the processes that led to the signing of the MOU. He emphasised: "The MOU is a significant milestone; we realised when we began our negotiations that GFA's needs aligned closely with the university's strategic direction." Nkgoang encouraged the farmers to seize the opportunity presented by the university to contribute meaningfully to the agricultural economy.

Prof Monde Ntwasa, Acting Executive Dean: College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, highlighted that the partnership with GFA transforms the South African economy through the model farm, establishing an innovation accelerator systems and administration and management for the Quadruple helix.

"This agreement brought joy and hope to GFA farmers that their ambitious wishes of becoming active participants in local economic development initiatives would be realised. The local farmers have expectations that through this collaboration, their farming skills, farm management and production techniques would be improved, and new cost-effective procedures would be introduced to mitigate climate change imperatives," said Chief Mthuthuzeli Makinana

The partnership between GFA and Unisa is widely supported by local authorities, which include traditional leaders, municipal councillors, relevant government departments, and private and business sectors. The agreement will further enhance the partnership by promoting the parties' cross-pollination of ideas, expertise and various support resources. 

* By Lukhetho Mbanjwa, Marketing Assistant, Eastern Cape Region, and Gugu Masinga, Marketing and Communications Specialist, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science

Publish date: 2024/03/13

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