Batlaphela Bokone Service Centre is located at Ga-Dikgale in Maganyane village, outside Polokwane. It was revamped and funded by the National Development Agency (NDA) after a visit in 2012 by the Department of Social Development Minister, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, when she found little economic activity and no place of safe-keeping for the vulnerable elderly persons within the community.
In response, members of the cooperative set out to create an environment that caters for the elderly who come in daily to partake in recreational activities, socialise, get provided with a nutritious meal and kept safe until there are people in the home stead. This initiative links and responded to previous attacks and abuse on the elderly in their homes in the community a few years back.
The cooperative manages a few activities: an old age care facility, vegetable and broiler poultry farming. The NDA, an agency of the Department of Social Development, assisted the members with the establishment of food security projects with the intent to promote the creation of jobs within the community through broiler production. Crops such as onions, mint, carrots, spinach, beetroot and cabbages have already been harvested and sold. “We rely on the surrounding community everyday sales and South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) pay points to keep the cooperative running. The poultry products are more popular and are our main source of income,” explains Abednigo Mathebula, Project Coordinator.
Batlaphela Bokone Service Centre business model is one that shows that further support by other government departments is crucial to the sustainability of small cooperatives. The Department of Agriculture came on board to assist with the water requirements and provided a water tank, irrigation drip system and increased broiler production. The Department of Social Development provides daily subsidies for the elderly people’s meals. The Independent Development Trust (IDT) built a second chicken house for chicken egg laying production. The National Lottery continues to assist the centre with the day to day operations.
“Our funding enabled the cooperative to reach a point of compliance and credibility that allowed them to seek further support from other organisations. We are happy that additional partners have since come on board and bought into the idea by pledging their support.
The collaboration with other organisations is necessary for the sustainability of these cooperatives. Often funding institutions are also limited to their offering, it is nearly impossible for one organisation to provide for the overall needs” explains NDA Provincial Manager, Zach Chuenyane.
The cooperative continues to face challenges in the form of high electricity costs due to fencing and lighting of the poultry houses. The area is characterised by high temperature levels and this often impacts on the mortality rate of the chicks and this affects productivity levels and total income. Chuenyane says that more partners that can support this initiative are invited as they can assist with further expansion of the cooperative.
“The amount that was allocated from the NDA for Batlaphela Bokone Service Centre has been depleted with recommendation that this model can be replicated in other communities” concludes Chuenyane.
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS