Sixty seven pupils from Qunu were thrilled to be given use of plots in Nelson Mandela’s garden yesterday.
Pupils from Milton Mbekela in Qunu and St Johns College in Mthatha will get R10000 each, of which R5000 will go towards their schooling and R5000 to grow vegetables and maintain the garden and farm.
They will plant 20000 vegetable seedlings.
This was announced yesterday by Madiba’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, together with Eastern Cape rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, Sakata Seeds’ boss Paul Ntsabele and KSD Mayor Nonkoliso Ngqongwa at a press conference at Madiba’s home.
Both Sakata Seeds and Africa Arise used the occasion to launch a programme to distribute one million tins of vegetable seeds across the country in a bid to improve food security and eradicate poverty.
Ndaba is the founder of the Africa Rise Foundation.
Nangamso Phuthumane, who is in Grade 11 at Milton Mbekela High, held back tears and said: “This is the first time I am here. I can feel the spirit of Madiba on me. I will hold this opportunity with both hands and ensure that it succeeds, for the sake of Madiba and his people.”
Ndaba and Qoboshiyane also used the event to kick-start the international Nelson Mandela Day activities.
Qoboshiyane and Ndaba lead local leaders and the pupils in planting carrots, cabbage, and spinach seedlings donated by the department and seeds donated by Sakata, a leading Japanese seed manufacturer.
After the conference pupils donned gumboots and planted seeds in the plots and also distributed them to local households and veterinary services officials who attend to Madiba’s cattle.
“We are launching the Mandela Garden project. We are planting seeds of greatness, promoting farming and also making sure that children understand the importance of farming,” said Ndaba.
An annual competition for the best harvest coming out of the project was announced.
Ndaba said the new project would overcome the “previous challenges on the farm”, which the Dispatch reported as stock not being cared for properly.
Sakata Seeds’ Paul Ntshabele expressed concern for ailing farmers in the country.
“We are faced with crisis. On average farmers are over 67 years of age and when they die we are left with no farmers. Drought has seen the price of vegetables increased twice within a year. It is sad to note that South Africa has the most land in Africa that lies unploughed, while people complain of poverty,” said Ntshabele.
Qoboshiyane and KSD mayor Nonkoliso Ngqongwa promised to support the Mandela Garden Project and ensure that water was carted in and agriculture extension officers got involved. — firstname.lastname@example.org