Like wisps of hair sparsely scattered on the crown of an old man, the roof tops of high rises in Johannesburg slowly grow green hair. Ushering in “a green rush,” the city answers to budding concerns of food, urban development and job security.
In a revolutionary attempt to create jobs, South Africa uses urban farming on roof tops to grow the economy and deal with severe youth unemployment, a looming crisis that can stifle the country.
“Agriprenuership” has become an important concept in Johannesburg. Already, market days in the city bring produce and meat from around the region. For agripreneurs, it is an opportunity for aspiring farmers to learn the business of agriculture to create jobs, for themselves.
In a public-private, Johannesburg Inner City Partnership collaborates with about 100 farms that will set up roof top patches in the city. Over the next two years, farmers will train teens and young adults in hydro-technology, teaching them how to cultivate small batches produce on little water and space.
Eventually, the top farmers will be granted a roof top plot of their own on affordable, privately owned property. The city rents out the first year, after that the farmers must sustain their lease. As well, profits from their farms will go back into the program to cultivate more agriprenuers.
The method teaches the time honored tradition of agriculture and entrepreneurship, to a demographic dealing with high numbers of unemployment. Nearly 40 percent for those aged between 15 and 34 in South Africa are unemployed. Often times, youth result in panhandling on the street, or taking odd jobs for minimal pay.
If South Africa does not move fast, the climate ripens for other issues to blossom from unemployment and poverty.