In a multi-stakeholder, agricultural approach to fighting the looming food insecurity challenge during COVID-19 national lockdown, several students social entrepreneurs joined forces with the Tshivhase Royal Council led by His Majesty Midiyavhathu Prince Kennedy Tshivhase, Vhembe District Municipality Executive Mayor Cllr Dowelani Nenguda, and the Green Development Foundation.
This initiative was facilitated by the University of Venda (UNIVEN) alumnus, Talifhani Tshitwamulomoni who is the former President of Universal Green Organisation (UGO). UGO is a student led organization that promotes green economy and other related initiatives. On behalf of the Green Development Foundation (GDF), about 50 000 seedlings of vegetable crops and herbs with health benefits were distributed to the villages of Tshivhase on 24 July 2020 at Mukumbani Tribal Centre. In line with fighting hunger and promoting food security in villages, the Tshivhase Royal Council prioritized families and farmers in need of sustainable solutions particularly during COVID-19 pandemic.
When addressing the participants, the Founding Chairperson of GDF Mr Mulalo Thabela commended everyone involved for affording them the opportunity to help the community with the little that GDF had to offer. “We grew up eating
indigenous fruits, unfortunately they are getting endangered if not extinct because people have forgotten the importance of perseveration. GDF exists because people care about preservation and sustainability of plants.” He further applauded the villages of Tshivhase for preserving the forests. Mr Thabela said they brought seedlings for different vegetables amongst others such as mustard, beetroot, tomato, garlic and ginger. He concluded by mentioning that GDF has over 50 000 seedlings to be distributed to different villages over time for people to prepare and plant at their homes and self-medicate amid the COVID -19 pandemic to boost their immune systems.
When representing UNIVEN, Miss Lindokuhle Zwane, an honours student in African Studies, who is also a Social Entrepreneur leading advocacy and empowerment initiatives in Gender Based Violence, extended gratitude for being part of the initiative in encouraging preservation and sustainability. “It is without a doubt that the pandemic has changed our lives hence there is a need to adapt and be as resilient as we possibly can. “We are always open to assist anytime you need our help. This is to create an open and friendly relationship between the University and people to fulfil reciprocity, co-learning and mindfulness.” She concluded by mentioning that Community Engagement Directorate, through its various projects and programmes that the University schools and departments participate in, should provide insights into how communities can deal with hunger, and other threats during COVID-19 National Lockdown such as Gender Based Violence.
Vhembe District Executive Mayor, Cllr Dowelani Nenguda when addressing the participants said “We may not have a sea for fishery but we have fertile and vast land for agriculture, therefore we should embrace that by using the land for our own benefit.” He thanked UNIVEN for this collaboration and other initiatives that are aimed at uplifting local communities with attempts to eradicate poverty during this difficult times. Cllr Neguda continued to mention that, UNIVEN students are well trained to be part of solution to problems found in communities where they come from and to plough back to these communities.” Cllr Nenguda emphasized that UNIVEN should do more in developing Agricultural Sciences and extension programmes as Agriculture is the number one source of Local Economic Development. In his conclusion, Cllr Nenguda expressed his satisfaction because part of the seedlings that were brought are known to be essential to boost the immune system against COVID-19.
In his concluding remarks for the event, His Majesty Midiyavhathu Prince Kennedy Tshivhase said that there is a lot that still need to be done and agriculture is the beginning of everything. “People from the Tshivhase villages are never hungry because there is plenty to do and they are encouraged to plant their own food.” He urged participants not to have a reduced life span whilst everything that can assist them to live long is around them. “You can’t be sitting by the corner gambling contrary to keeping fit and eating healthy food. There are all kinds of fruits and vegetables right here by the mountain forest, indigenous trees too.” He referred the UNIVEN as an important stakeholder that communities can benefit from in many avenues. He also emphasized that UNIVEN should strengthen Agricultural programmes because Vhembe District has rich soil and conducive climate.
The GDF featured a Buti Green Mascot which is children’s friend. He teaches them about green sustainability and preservation. Buti Green Mascot an anti-deforestation activist and he discourages people from cutting down trees.
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 18 August 2020