The shining lights in SA’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors were celebrated on Thursday night at an awards ceremony hosted at the Boardwalk Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth.
Department of agriculture, land reform and rural development deputy ministers Mcebisi Skwatsha and Sidumo Dlamini co-hosted the event, which highlights excellence and exceptional achievements of young entrepreneurs and producers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors around the country.
The awards were launched in June 2016 and are staged annually to commemorate youth month.
Winner for agriculture excellence in the small-scale category, Siphesihle Kwetana, 25, is the sole owner of Siphe Development and Capacitation Agency in the Eastern Cape.
Her business is located in Shawbury, Tsolo, and has been operating for four years, producing a wide variety of vegetables yielding a harvest of about 12,000 bunches of spinach, 10,000 heads of cabbage and 6,000kg of green peppers a month, within a given season.
Her business supplies supermarkets in Mthatha, Tsolo and Qumbu including SPAR, Pick n Pay, Ideal Veggies and Food Lover’s Market.
To date, the business has created two permanent and 12 temporary job opportunities.
“I am so excited and happy after winning this award. For my business it means so much because I will be able be expand and employ more people from my community.
“This award will also show other young women that anything is possible. Young girls can feel motivated by this and grow a passion for farming,” Kwetana said.
The winner in the large-scale category for forestry excellence, Sonwabile Bushula, 30, also hails from the Eastern Cape. Bushula’s business, SA Fine Tuned, is located in Stutterheim.
He also serves as the chair of Amahlathi youth in agriculture and rural development and as the treasurer of Amathole charter of Youth in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
His business has been operating on 2,000ha of leased land since 2013 and harvests 50ha of pine annually.
“I am feeling so great. For a young black man like me, operating in the forestry industry, this award shows that I am on the right track. It is great to get recognition for what you are doing. I feel the government is showing that it is willing to help and develop previously disadvantaged people.
“I am really happy, because for me it means I can create more jobs,” he said.