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Maqhashu Sorghum Belt Project

Vision:
To strive to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Mission Statement:
The members of Maqhashu Sorghum Belt Association Co-operative LTD are striving to eliminate hunger and poverty, by working together to grow Sorghum in larger quantity for household consumption and also for the markets. In order to do so they believe that the process of production of sorghum should involve all the people of Maqhashu that is men, women, youth and people living with H.I.V and Aids.

Conditions that prevailed at the time of the formation of the organization.
a) Political Factors
When the organization was formed in 2003 there was a democratically elected government, which came into power as a result of its election manifesto in which promised to bring a better life for all people in South Africa. That government encouraged the people of South Africa to set up income generating projects aimed at improving their lives.

b) Economic Factors
Economically a number of industries closed down due to economic depression that brought about a high rate of unemployment.

c)  Social Factors
The people who wanted to earn a living through cultivating the land could not do so because they did not have implements with which to till the land as a result of that unemployment and crime increased.

d) Technological factors
In the past people used to plough their fields using cattle/oxen as a result of persistent brought large number cattle died, making it difficult for people to plough. Some people who where retrenched from the mines and other industries managed to buy tractors so that they can earn a living by polishing for those people who do not have oxen with which to plough. A large number of people could not afford to hire those tractors since they did not have money.
The economic factors, in unemployment members of Maqhashu community who were interested in farming, heard about various initiatives started by the government departments to alleviate poverty from the media. They approached departments like local municipalities and social development for assistance.

Brief History
Because the Eastern Cape Province lacks natural resources, it is therefore up to agriculture and the development and the development thereof to provide. The people with living with the high rate of unemployment in the province and with many of its people rural, we believe agriculture to be only way to drive the frontiers of poverty.


Project aims and objectives
It is to produce sorghum massively and to improve the standard of living of the beneficiaries.
To promote rural living of the entire community.

Formation and membership
The community members organized themselves in 2003 on 17 March and formed and association with a membership fee of R100.00 and they ended up being 80 farmers who combined their individual plots of 2.5 hectares to form 200 hectares.
The names themselves Maqhashu sorghum Belt Association. Their first executive committee was formed and it co-originated all the activities of the project. They formed partnership with the department of agriculture, local municipality, social development, absa and the service providers like agricultural research council. The project drafts its constitution and it opened a bank account ABSA. It later registered as a legal entity on the 22 April 2004. The members of this project are made up of men, women, and youth and disable people. We are also open to register people living with HIV and AIDS but unfortunately they don?t avail themselves. Women are the majority in this project.

Funding Issues
The National Development Agency funded the projects to the tune of R808, 000.00 in 2004 for the period of two years. After the two years the cooperative joined with the other two cooperatives in the district to form a secondary cooperative.  After the secondary coop was formed they also applied for funding at the NDA to strengthen the other two structures that have just joined. The NDA funded the new structure to the Tune of R1173, 250.00 in March 2008.

The Maqhashu primary cooperative has also been funded by the municipality to the tune of R 722 666.00.

Challenges
The corporative has no facilities of its own. It is making use of contractors for mechanization which sometimes leads to poor quality of work which results in poor level of yields

Training needs are key to this project as farmers are not knowledgeable about the modern way of Agriculture. Because of lack of proper business skills farmers are unable to market their products effectively.

Sustainability
Farmers are a lot more positive about the sustainability of the project and the key issue is to address the challenges mentioned above. Farmers are contributing R1000.00 every month each to ensure that they keep on working and avoid dependency to donors. The fact that farmers themselves have initiated the project and that they are all showing commitment by following the constitution that they have passed is a clear indication that this project will stay and move from being a project to a big business in Maqhashu and Ndonga.

Highlights from 2003
In 2003-04 the project had no funding. They did not have a well organized structure and they managed to produce 1655 X 50 bags = 82 tons

2004-05 they had funding from the NDA and their structure was beginning to be organized and they produce 2202X50kg bags = 110 tons

2005-06 there was drought and they mange to produce 1511x50kg =75tons

2006-07 they produced 1420x50kg bags = 71 tons

2007-08 farmers depended on the funding they had raised since the NDA funding was exhausted and they managed to produce 3281x50kg bags=160 tons


Ndonga

Background
The project was started by Mr konoti and his family members in 2003 and they then asked for R70 000.00 a loan from farm Africa. They had to pay back the money to Farm Africa as and when they harvested. The people in the villages around also got interested and it became a community projects with people from 11 villages in Ndonga. The villages are Lemoni, Ngciciyaze,hazia 2, Ntlalontle, Greyspnn, lower Ndonga and Maqubezia. Because they wanted more funding they were advised by Funda Agency advised them to form a corporative which they did in 2005 and they became Ndonga Ncedolwethu Agriculture cooperative.

The cooperative had 511 members, falling in three categories: Sorghum, Poultry and Sewing. The Sorghum category has 390 members of the 511. Their land that they have has 1112 hectors but they are only using the 200 hectors at the moment due to financial constraints.

They applied for funding to the NDA and the NDA had advised them to register as the secondary co operative to Maqhashu.

How we work
There have a committee which is consist of 22 committee members. Each village is represented by two members. They meet monthly to update each other on the latest development. For them to sustain the Co-op each member contributes R5 every month which goes to their bank account.

From the 22 members 5 were selected to represent the coop in the primary Co-op with Maqhashu. 

Challenges of the project according the chairperson
Insufficient technical skilled people in morden agricultural farming- People need to be trained on how to run the farm a in a Morden way so that we can produce better produce. If we have better produce we will be able to turn our project to a sustainable business. We need organisational skills, financial Management and marketing skills.
 
Insufficient resources- we have a big land but we are not able to plough all of it. We are only going to use a small portion because the funding we got from the NDA and other partners can only allow us to plough 200 hectors.

Partners
Department of Agriculture

The project received R 1000 000.00 for building a Hazz and shearing centre at Greyspan. A Tractor, boom sprayer, trailer were handed over by the MEC of Agriculture. The project also receive technical support from the department.
Contact Mr S. Mbali on 082 6600 192

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