mhlengi ngcobo creating a better tomorrow
23 Year old Mhlengi Ngcobo is a young South African determined to make a difference!
Born in Kwa-Maphumulo in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mhlengi found himself unable to find employment after completing a business management diploma, and like so many was overcome by a sense of helplessness, suffering from acute anxiety and depression
It was a chance discussion with a psychologist under whose care Mhlengi found himself that changed his life.
The psychologist recommended that Mhlengi create himself a mini garden – something to nurture and care for to re-ignite his passion for life.
Never having envisaged Agriculture and farming as a career, Mhlengi found himself an “Accidental farmer”.
“When I went home to Kwa-Maphumulo, I realised that we had large tracts of available land in the community for farming. I didn’t have the means to embark on a large-scale farming project – No money for implements and fertilizers, so I had to start small. But I knew there was a bigger picture!”
Mhlengi now mentors and trains young people from disadvantaged backgrounds on farming methods and how to produce quality products which will allow them to compete in the formal sector.”
Many of these youths come from communities in which substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and crime is prevalent.
“I want to change the narrative on how black people see agriculture” says Mhlengi.
“Historically Agriculture and farming has been viewed as being the bastion of specific race groups and genders.
Farming has long been viewed as a male dominated industry.
We want the industry to be inclusive, with black people and women being valued members of the sector.
I don’t think it’s because it’s because the black society is not capable of farming well but I think it’s because of lack of knowledge.
People do not necessarily have the right skills and know how to run farms.”
Mhlengi’s new project set to kickoff in January 2022, is what he calls his “Heartfelt One School – One Garden” project, which will see pupils from primary and high schools being tasked to create, maintain and sustain vegetable gardens.
The aim is to promote healthy foods and foster leadership.
The pupils taking care of the garden will be tasked with looking after the garden and ensuring it’s success.
“Don’t wait for handouts” says Mhlengi.
“We can empower individuals and develop communities.
The Government feeding scheme provides food for children while they are at school, but what happens when they go home? Who provides food then?”
With the supervision of teachers, pupils who are most in need will be identified, and food can be made available to them to take home.
Excess produce can also be sold, generating much needed income which can in turn provide for those children.
Whether it’s to buy new school shoes or books to study from.
“We are hoping that going forward government education systems in varsities can somehow be aligned with what’s happening in the agricultural sector, keeping students up to date with effective and sustainable farming methods.
We are really hoping that Universities update the curriculum to include this in the syllabus.
We want create employment opportunities in communities by developing and empowering people.”
Mhlengi advises those with academic qualifications like himself who are battling to find work, to consider entering other fields to make it in life.
“I want people to realise that opportunity doesn’t just lie within the “bling bling” of the big cities.
I want to help revive township and rural economies in a sustainable manner which allows people to take charge of their own futures and not be dependent on handouts”
Lend a hand
If you would like to contact Mhlengi to see if he can assist in making a change in your community, or if you would simply like to reach out to assist him with his incredible projects, he can be contacted on : 076 961 1177
Iconic South Africans – Making a difference and creating a better tomorrow!