2 May 2012
President Jacob Zuma, speaking during the hand-over of tractors and cattle to local community projects in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape on Sunday, encouraged South Africans to use land more effectively to fight hunger and poverty.
Zuma was in the province to roll out projects forming part of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative (MRDI), which aims to equip communities in rural areas to develop themselves, especially in the area of agriculture.
The MRDI is chaired by Zuma in his capacity as a community member of in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, where the initiative was born before being launched in Qumbu in the Eastern Cape in November.
The government has since become a partner of the initiative, with ministers pledging their support to the programme.
“It is very important, because it is when we work the land that we can quickly change the quality of life for our people,” Zuma said.
“If we are sitting doing nothing, the change will take longer, and one of the important things we have to do is to work on the land. It’s one of the fundamental things we have to achieve.”
Zuma said the government had been assisting communities with agricultural implements to grow food for local markets.
In Peddie earlier in the day, tractors were donated to local agricultural projects.
In Butterworth, Zuma handed over 10 tractors to the Mtshanyaneni Agricultural and Farming Cooperative. More than 100 locals are involved with the project, which focuses on crop and cattle farming.
One of the cooperative’s members, Phila Gcasamba, said land was still a crucial tool to address poverty in rural areas.
“For us it’s not about waiting for handouts, but we do appreciate when we get assistance here and there, because through these projects people are able to sell what they yield, which in turn ensures some form of income,” Gcasamba said.