Minister Senzeni Zokwana today called for a partnership between government, higher learning institutions and the business. Zokwana visited the SUNfarming project at the North West University in Potchefstroom. The solar powered vegetable project was born from a partnership between SUNfarming and the University of Potchefstroom in 2013, establishing the first Solar Training centre in South Africa. The centre has trained over 450 people since 2013, providing skills on solar PV technology.
The project began production in June 2016 producing tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower and other herbs. No soil is required to grow vegetables in the tunnels and water productivity is increased through drip irrigation. The project has three tunnels with six young women trained per tunnel. Sola tunnel production has much higher yields compared to conventional farming.
“The project provides an opportunity to grow affordable and nutritious food in local municipalities. This is an opportunity to effectively address household food and nutrition insecurity. This is innovative technology for agriculture and we want to see this replicated in other parts of the country as it effectively deals with the issue of climate change and the scarcity of water and land, said Zokwana
Buni Maretlwa, one of the workers at SUNfarming said she was excited to have been in the first group of people who were trained on this project. "We are no longer planting our vegetables using the soil, but cocofibre. Our system of farming saves water. Our vegetables pots irrigated on time and we produce fresh vegetables" she said.
“The North West province is blessed with a lot of sunshine and all that was needed was creative innovative minds to come up with great initiatives to make use of this sunlight in order to increase agricultural production in the area. Sun farming is good for our future and what we experienced here today with the Minister was great. In Potchefstroom, we have more agriculture land that must be utilised “said Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg, University of North West Potchefstroom Campus Rector.
“I am excited about the project and the potential it has for our municipality and I want to pledge our full support to this project “said Councillor Kgotso Khumalo Executive Mayor for Tlokwe municipality.
Issued by DAFF