Much of the arable rural land in South Africa’s country sides remains unused for a number reasons. In a village called Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, many of the young people in the area are unemployed and some resort to substance abuse due to lack of jobs, while other families depend on monthly government grants for living.
This environment inspired Bonginkosi Kalipa, now a third-year BCom Acctoing (CA-stream) student at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), to use the land for producing vegetables and villagers to earn an income to feed their families and uplift the community’s living standard. For this, Kalipa won SAICA’s Student Leadership Summit competition with his farming project Team3 Farming in October 2019. SAICA encouraged students to bring about community-based solutions for one or more of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Kalipa says that “Most of the rural communities in the Eastern Cape have large amounts of undeveloped arable land, yet many people in these areas live in abject poverty. Without jobs, entire communities are dependent on government grants for their survival. And since they lack formal education, residents of these communities find themselves unemployable, which perpetuates hunger and makes them vulnerable to diseases as lack of proper nutrition remains a problem in these areas. It’s these problems that I sought to address through Team3 Farm.”
His Team3 Farm addresses two big problems: Hunger and poverty. “Team3 exists to bridge this gap between poverty, hunger and conflict by utilising dormant land to produce vegetables and use this produce to help people earn an income,” he says.
Kalipa was born and raised in Ngcobo. He says that he was the only one, in a village of more than 50 boys his age, who passed matric and proceeded to study at a university. He started the farming activities, which would later become the Team3 Farm project, on a very small scale while he was still in Grade 11. He also worked hard at school to earn the chance to go to university.
Today, Bonginkosi’s Team3 Farm project has secured around 200 square meters of latent community land on which they plant vegetables (spinach, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, butternut and beetroot). Team3 Farm also is rearing chickens for their eggs and meat. It also provides employment for three community members, including his sister, with scope to grow these numbers as the concept takes off.
In so doing, Team3 Fam, gives the local rural community of Ngcobo access to cheap vegetables, eggs and chickens as well as the ability to earn income either as rentals for owners or wages for those employed in the farm’s value chain. In addition, the project also sells its fresh produce to schools, clinics and the All Saints Hospital to assist with the various feeding schemes that exist in the region.