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Diaspora Matters

How to benefit from land reform in South Africa

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The interest in farming by youths in South Africa is at an all time high. This is encouraging as some explore farming as an alternative to seeking formal jobs. A lot of farming activity is already underway especially in provinces such as Limpopo, KZN and Mpumalanga. The question on the minds of most people interested in getting land is ‘How do you get land?’ Below we feature some answers from our members on land access.

Question: How do I get land access to state land? 

Siya Try the Department of Land Reform.

Tinoda You must have a proper business plan.

Mpho Have a business plan and visit the land departments, but expect slow progress due to corruption.

Mthembeni Have you identified the land you would like to acquire for farming?

Mthingeni Identify the farm which is for sale. Go to the Department of Land Reform. The department will assist. If you have many cattle you stand a good chance and might contribute close to nothing.

Terence The current process is that land is advertised by DRDLR through the local newspapers and all those that qualify need to apply. A committee called DBSC will shortlist then interviews are conducted. The successful candidate will then be awarded the rights to utilise the land in question.

Piet  Visit district office of Dpartment of Rural Development and Land Reform get more direct information . The administrator of District Land reform committee (DLRC) can assist you. They will explain about sub commitee known as Beneficiary selection committee terms of reference.

Terence Just as Bhekathina says…. Go to your district office and at that office ask about the process on leasing of land and if their DLRC (District Land Reform Committee) chaired by farmers is operational. This committee is in charge of land allocation issues.

Thabo Meantime whilst waiting for land from DLRC, go to local chiefs and get a 1 ha or 2ha piece of land and start your operations there.

Thuso  Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. But you gonna wait for a very long time. Ask me. I’m still waiting after 6 years

Lebo  You need serious connections to own a piece of land and if you don’t have connections just be ready for the long haul. There is a long list of people who never farmed before and those who are serious about farming awaiting just to face the panel or the board that decide whether you qualify or not. Iam sorry about the weak system where the monied are given first preference over those who are more capable.

 

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Diaspora Matters

Make Money From Mushroom Farming

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One farming area that is less populated is mushroom farming especially oyster mushroom. The demand for mushroom is at an all time high with most retail shops running out of the agricultural produce. Interested in giving it a try? Then research more about it especially how to grow it and accessing markets.

Below we feature  an article from one of Zimbabwe’s leading agriculture experts, Mr Philemon Buruzi.

Growing Oyster Mushrooms
Despite the fact that oyster mushrooms are relatively new on the Zimbabwean food market, they are fast becoming a favourite of many customers countrywide. Oyster mushroom cultivation is the simplest and least cost when compared to other types of mushrooms. This is so because oyster requires no special inputs but rather can be grown using locally available materials and even makes use of agricultural waste. The only requirement that a prospective mushroom grower needs to outsource apart from the mushroom spawn is know how and that is what I endeavour to provide by putting together this article.

Definitions

Terms used in mushroom growing which might be new to the uninitiated are given below;

Spawn – this is the mushroom ‘seeds’,

Spawning – refers to the process of ‘planting’ the mushroom,

Substrate – is the agricultural waste on which the mushroom grows e.g wheat straw,

Fruiting – formation of the mushrooms under specific house conditions.

Required Facilities and Equipment

Fruiting house, spawning house, spawn, thermometer, hygrometer, water sprayer, buckets, plastic bags, sterilising drum, string

Spawn and Substrates

Spawn is purchased from spawn laboratories. Substrates can be any of the following materials-sawdust from deciduous trees, banana leaves, cotton waste, milled maize cobs, chopped rice or wheat straw, chopped maize stalks. Ensure that the substrate has high nutrient content, good water-holding capacity and is well aerated. To control acidity, add 2% lime by weight and 20% wheat bran to improve quality.

Spawning Room

After spawning, substrate bags are kept in this room for development of the mycelium. This room should provide dark conditions and a temperature of around 240C. Alternative the same mushroom house can be used provided it can be made dark as required during incubation.

Fruiting House

This is the room in which the mushroom grows. The size of this room depends on the scale that the grower wants to operate at. The walls of the room can be made of any material be it bricks, wood, thatch or even pole and dagga. It is recommended to line the walls with plastic sheeting in order to relative manage humidity better. Ventilation should be adequate, hence air vents or windows need be in place. The room should have enough light as and when needed. Wooden shelves or racks should be fitted to handle spawned substrate bags. The house should provide for temperature maintenance between 180C-250 C and humidity of 80-90%.

How to do it

Below is a four stage process of growing oyster mushroom presented in a step by step format;

Step One – Substrate preparation

Chopped or shredded substrate is soaked in water overnight. After 24 hours excess water is drained off and lime is added. Transfer the mixture into the sterilising drum and subsequently filled with hot water. The drum is allowed to boil for 60 minutes before transferring the substrate onto a plastic sheet to cool off to between 38-400C.

Step Two- Spawning

Pack the substrate into transparent plastic bags adding the spawn even layer upon layer. Care should be taken not to pack the substrate too tightly or too loosely. Also ensure that this stage takes place under hygienic conditions as diseases tend to enter at this phase. Tie the open end of the plastic bag immediately after filling.

Step Three- Incubation

Place the spawned bags in dark room at 240C or simply cover the bags with black plastic sheets. Incubation lasts between 14-40 days and full colonisation is evidenced by white mycelium covering the whole bag.

Step Four- Fruiting

Initiate the formation of the mushroom bodies by exposing the bags to light. Once light hits the bags fruiting commences. After 24 hrs make long cuts at the top and bottom of the bags. Mushrooms will start to form in 4 days. Temperature should be maintained between 20-280C whilst humidity is between 80-95%.

Step Five-Harvesting

Mushroom are ready to be plucked 4 days after the emergence of the fruiting body. handle by the stalk twist gently and pull out. Harvesting is best done in the cooler hours of the day. Immediately refrigerate without freezing to preserve freshness. Make more long cuts around the centre of the bag for more mushrooms to emerge. Continue to harvest till the substrate turns colourless and of a soft feel. In general terms 10kg of substrate should give you a yield of between 10kg-20kg of mushrooms.

For all questions and comments: philemonburuzi@gmail.com.

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