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AGCO Agriculture Foundation Award goes to South Africa’s Bahle Zondo Foundation

The AGCO Agriculture Foundation (AAF) has announced the Bahle Zondo Foundation in South Africa as the first organisation globally to receive the newly-launched AAF Award

The AAF Award goes to the Bahle Zondo Foundation (BZF) for its innovative solutions in addressing rural unemployment through its work at the uMsinga Farming Project in KwaZulu-Natal.

Philanthropist Dr Bahle Zondo established the uMsinga Farming project in August 2018 with an objective to create job opportunities for local women, provide them with the chance to become successful agripreneurs and empower them with the means to sustain themselves and their families.

One year later, the project provides employment for around 50 women who run and manage the farm. Recently the uMsinga Farming Project harvested its first crop – sugar beans. The BZF assisted the local women in finding a market for their products and with the sales’ income, the women are now better able to support their households as well as invest in further inputs for the next planting season.

As the winner of the award, the BZF will receive US$50,000 towards further community development projects.

Initiated by AGCO Corporation, a global player in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and solutions, the AGCO Agriculture Foundation started its non-profit activities in 2018 and contributes to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations that seek to end hunger and provide basic necessities to a growing world population.

With a seed fund of US$78,000, Dr Zondo was inspired to create the uMsinga Farming Project following a protest by women outside the local primary school in Msinga. The women were appealing for more job opportunities with the school’s feeding scheme but it was not possible for the school to employ them. Dr Zondo came up with his alternative solution to utilize their skills by establishing the farming project and merging three informal cooperatives on communal land with sites varying from two to 50 ha.

The BZF’s objective is for the women to become self-sufficient but, in the meantime, it has set aside a budget to pay them a stipend until the farm generates enough income to provide wages. Currently, the BZF supports women of the co-operatives as well as casual workers who assist with clearing weeds and trees and erecting fencing around the project’s cultivated land. This stipend has served as an incentive to attract local youth to the project.