Stakeholders across key governmental departments and academia, joined the alternative energy and private sector in a two-day workshop to assist youth agri-preneurs in the Limpopo region build their climate resilience, in order to help ensure the sustainability of their businesses.
It is well-known that the main effects of climate change on agriculture includes decreased soil fertility, the need for changes in farming infrastructure, unpredictable weather patterns and lower ground and surface water availability, which is especially prevalent in a country like South Africa. Furthermore, climate change also degrades the land, with the loss of organic matter and nutrients impacting soil fertility and crop yields.
Working closely with a cohort of youth farmers, many of whom are already feeling the impact of shifting weather patterns which often result in failed crops, the workshop has provided tools for the cohort to devise mitigation measures.
“It is my belief that once the crop and animal farmers become aware of the climate change-related issues, it will be easier for them to come up with mitigation measures when they are faced with challenges. Better yet, they are now equipped to avoid losses and have the knowledge and skills to move forward,” commented Harrisinah Theka, Economic Development Specialist for Soutpan Solar Power.
The topics covered included: climate change risks and vulnerability in the Blouberg Municipal area; climate smart agricultural practices and support programmes available by the Department of Agriculture; alternative energy-biofuels; rainfall harvesting system techniques; a demonstration of the National Climate Change Information System; climate projections for Limpopo Province; alternative energy solutions, solar energy; and alternative energy-bio-fuels.
Peter Meyer, Director of Masa Poultry Farmers, previously supported by Soutpan Solar Power’s overarching youth skills development programme, was one of the eighteen participants, all of which are local farmers from the Blouberg area.
“This workshop was very productive, one of the highlights for me was the information on bio-fuel and how it can help me reduce my diesel costs as I need to use diesel to both heat and cool my chickens. It will also assist with our lighting requirements. The information shared has given me a lot to think about, and prepare for the future,” explained Meyer.
Cynthia Mokgobu, a local potato farmer added, “The information shared by the South African Weather Service was very interesting to me, as a potato farmer. I now know what to expect in terms of weather for the rest of this year for my crops.”
The experts were drawn from the University of Limpopo; Department of Agriculture; Biofuels Business Incubator; Department Of Forestry, Fisheries and The Environment; South African Weather Services; Soutpan Solar Power; and the University of Venda shared an in-depth presentation.
“Working closely with the local businesses, I realised that they could benefit from understanding more about issues related to climate change and having added this to our development focus last year, we realised that we needed to gather partners from private and public sector who could assist our young community’s farmers. Together with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, a collaborative partnership formed for this workshop, which we can now see has been successful in helping to better capacitate the youth owned agri-SMMEs within the Blouberg area. This will no doubt help to lay solid foundations for this generation and the next who will be dealing with the realities of our changing climate,” concluded Theka.
This initiative forms part of Soutpan Solar Power’s overarching youth skills development programme, which is now in its third year of operation. The programme is implemented in collaboration with an eco-system of partners, including the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA); Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA); Venetia Mine; Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET); Department of Rural Development, and Capricorn District Municipality.