Kandu App Addresses Poverty, Gender Inequality and Youth Unemployment in Agri Sector14 June 2017
University of KwaZulu-Natal recognised for innovative farming App
The UMtate WamaBovu project Enactus team from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has introduced an innovative App called Kandu which they believe is the solution to many problems faced by farmers in uMsinga, in eZingulubeni.
This innovative approach to farming which seeks to make farming in UMsinga viable by increasing production and efficiencies, involving youth in farming, creating job opportunities for women and the disabled in the community and boosting income has secured the UKZN team a place amongst the eight finalists competing at the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards (BSIYA) judging ceremony on Friday, 30 June.
From a survey conducted by Enactus UKZN, more than 70% of the farmers are above the age of 50 years and their highest education levels are grade 7. Most farmers have up to eight unemployed household dependents.
The UMtate WamaBovu Enactus UKZN project consists of more than 165 members, mostly female and promotes gender equality. It is run on 66 hectares of land with healthy soil and sufficient water sources which lends great potential for emerging farmers to grow a wide variety crops ranging from potatoes, maize, tomatoes, beans, chilli, cabbages all the way to green pepper.
“Though the uMsinga area is saturated with large supply of crops from many different farmers, their expenses (seeds, fertilisers, hiring tractors, labourers and high electricity costs to run irrigation systems) exceed income as one of their greatest struggles is not having access to markets to sell their produce to,” explains Lungelo Gabela, Team Leader of Enactus UKZN.
“In addition, many farmers lack knowledge or the means to approach markets, retailers and wholesalers outside the uMsinga area. Farmers are also in need of important infrastructure like harvest processing hubs, trucks and tractors,” he adds.
The team first worked with the municipality to pay the farmers’ electricity debt of R156 000, installing solar panels which are cheaper in the long run, more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Another challenge they wanted to address was by increasing participation from the youth in uMsinga as youth unemployment is high.
“We believe our new Kandu App will be a solution to the struggles of the farmers by bringing new opportunities for large growth and sustainability. We have started introducing this new technology to rural emerging farmers by showing them how it can increase their revenue through acquiring more customers (wholesalers, retailers, supermarkets and individuals) who will buy their produce once they become aware of it,” explains Gabela.
He says the team also plans to introduce Kandu to potential customers so that they are able to place orders online without going to the farm. When clients or the customers pay after the produce has been delivered, the secure payment option it offers goes directly to the farmer’s cellphone eliminating delays of payment by the customer trying make payments somewhere else. This system can further assist in increasing revenue of farmers and decreasing wastage of left over stock.
This project is not only aligned with the National Development Plan and Integrated Development Plan, but addresses goals 1, 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Says Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at Barloworld, Sibani Mngomezulu: “Barloworld seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to the empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of our broader society.”
“In supporting Enactus, we are able to play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging young people to improve lives and strengthen communities, and developing responsible leadership,” says Mngomezulu.