Short description

Siyakholwa’s agricultural development programme helps farmers and communities in the Keiskammahoek area in the Eastern Cape.


Keiskammahoek consists of 40 rural villages situated mainly within a mountainous area. This area is blessed with fertile soil and an abundant supply of water, making it a very viable area for farming. Most of the farms are supplied directly with gravity-fed irrigation.

Unfortunately farmers are making very little use of those resources. Major constraints include a lack of managerial and financial skills, low access to capital, and limited infrastructure. Farmers are often limited to growing low-value crops, such as cabbage, because they lack the right skills and equipment. These crops have a low value and a limited impact on the market. For this reason, most people in the Keiskammahoek rely on government grants to survive.

With appropriate assistance, community members from the area have the potential to develop sustainable agricultural businesses.


Siyakholwa was established in 2001 to mentor and support viable rural community projects in the Keiskammahoek area. They currently work with 60 farmers from 37 villages. By up-skilling emerging farmers to grow a variety of high-value crops, improving productivity and facilitating access to local markets, they contribute to creating sustainable jobs. Examples of such crops include medicinal herbs, maize, essential oils, chilli and paprika.

In partnership with government through the Community Works Programme (CWP), Siyakholwa is able to provide farmers with finance, project management, administration as well as technical assistance, such as electrical and mechanical training, aiming to enhance the viability and sustainability of their businesses.

Technical and life skills are transferred through the foundation’s internship and mentorship programmes. This is done during implementation with the help of 20 experienced mentors and trainers who manage the agricultural programmes.

In addition, Siyakholwa grow, extract and sell rose geranium essential oil which serves as a valuable source of income. They have also helped in setting up 60 productive food gardens whose produce is distributed to schools and community centres in the area.

What we like about this organisation

The organisation has been in operation for over 12 years and still has a hands-on approach with the participating villages. The organisation interacts with the communities on a regular basis and ensures that they receive buy-in for their projects. They also have a good relationships with the Agricultural Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, various commercial farmers and NGOs.

What difference can your money make?

  • R10 000 will be used to put local trainers on an assessors course.
  • R250 000 will be used to establish a technical training centre with 10 work stations.
  • R750 000 will allow the organisation to develop more rose geranium farmer units and establish businesses for value added services from essential oils

Volunteering opportunities

  • Assistance with fundraising