MEC Pieters hands over new shearing shed to 100 farmers in Komani
Eastern Cape MEC for the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Nonkqubela Pieters handed over more than R1 million worth farming infrastructure that will benefit 100 farmers in Zingquthu village in Komani.
The infrastructure, which was handed over to the members of the Sibonile Nkonkobe Shearing Shed was built using the 2020/21 financial year budget of the department, has a shearing shed with its equipment, small stock dipping and animal handling facilities.
Speaking at the event, MEC Pieters said DRDAR in the 2021/22 financial year invested R5, 471 595 million in the building of 6 shearing sheds and provided 8 others with shearing equipment in  the Chris Hani District Municipality.
Pieters warned farmers to “guard the infrastructure provided by government jealousy. This is going to give you wealth and improve your lives. If you let this become vandalized you will lose out on the benefits of developing your area.”
Pieters said the structure will ensure that “poverty was chased away from this area.”
She encouraged young people of Zingquthu to venture into agriculture related studies, adding that agro-processing was one of the focus areas.
“Youth should be getting into the agricultural value chain and make more money. This is an investment and we want to see returns. Treat farming as a business, this is where wealth is,” she said.
She said in the 2022/23 financial year the department has set aside about R14 million for development in the Enoch Mgijima Municipality alone.
Chairperson of the shearing shed Thezaphi Fose said the project members that include 45 women, 24 males, three people living with disabilities and 28 young people were very excited about the investment.
“We work well together. We are forever thankful to the department for this assistance. Things are a lot easier.  Our wool is no longer the same and the quality has shown improvement tremendously,” he said.
Treasurer Nokwakha Mbhalo told of long distances they had to use a shearing shed in another village prior to them getting this new facility.
She said: “the distance was tiring and there were times you came back with your sheep not having been sheared because we were overcrowded. With this new shed, we feel honoured because we were struggling before. Our sheep were even dying but now we are smiling. Previously we used our own houses with no proper equipment and that compromised the quality of our wool,” she said.
Mbalo said last year, which was the first year they used the shed they sold the wool from the 3 066 sheep sheared to BKB and made more than R380 000.
 “We are hoping to get more money now that we are using this shed with top-of-the-range equipment. We are calling for unity amongst farmers. This is our inheritance and we love that our children have joined us. We also have disabled people involved here,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the youth Sonwabile Mbhalo, 34, said: “We are excited today as young people. We have learnt a lot about having this structure here. It has played a big role to ensure youth is not involved in criminal activities and drugs”