The Project KOBA-TLALA Marievale Military Base vegetable farming pilot project in Gauteng is progressing exponentially in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Reports Maj Siphiwe Ngwenya…

The development of the Marievale Military Base as a possible training centre for agricultural training and vegetable farming, in conjunction with the Gauteng Provincial Government, is making progress as a Project KOBA-TLALA pilot project.  

*** The Dean of the Faculty of Science of TUT, Prof Prince Ngobeni and the HOD for Agriculture in Gauteng, Ms Mathilda Gasela, the D KOBA-TLALA Brig Gen Gerhard Kamffer, Brig Gen Mama and Maj Siphiwe Ngwenya from the SA Air Force with the students at the TUT graduation ceremony in 2022. These Reserve members received their certificates in Advanced Vegetable Farming ***

Project KOBA-TLALA is aligned with the SA Defence Review 2015 and, as such, provides the means for the Department of Defence (DOD) to meaningfully address Goal 4 and Task 13 (Contribute to the Development of SA and its People). At the strategic level, the South African Defence Force (SANDF) achieves national goals of government, not only through military operations executed in terms of its core mandate, but also through Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTWA), which is a key output of Project KOBA-TLALA. 

In addition, Project KOBA-TLALA provides the SANDF with the opportunity to interface with communities in a non-military way, and in so doing demonstrating that the SANDF is a “force for good”. This goes a long way in closing the civil-military gap and positioning the SANDF as a trusted partner, working with civil society, to provide security for all the people of South Africa.

The are many stories to tell of land effective tillers. The Marievale Military Base in a journey of just a year post the graduation of 11 trained reserve force members and 20 beneficiaries of the Departments of Social Development (GDSD) and Agriculture in Gauteng through the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) to acquire basic crop productions skills in the South East of Gauteng, started to produce successfully. The Base has developed from a small scale 1 ha production to a 3 ha production mostly through the continuous practical training of the 11 reserve force members of Bambatha Rifles and South African Air Force Reserve members. 

Farming activities were initially undertaken by 20 volunteers who received stipends from the GDSD and 11 reserves who attended a crop production course offered by TUT. To this extent, key operations include planting of Spinach, Cabbages and Beetroot vegetables where drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are applied. 

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture undertook a detailed analysis of the land, infrastructure and equipment required to be provided in the identified 35 ha land parcels and subsections. The Gauteng Department of Agriculture provided support to the farming community in Marievale, in a form of extension, technical  and advisory services.

*** A truck full of spinach from Marievale Military Base.transported to the market ***

With the community within its area of operation SANDF accommodated the participation of 20 beneficiaries from the surrounding communities of Springs, Daveyton and Duduza selected by GDSD in an effort to take government services to the community, encourage young people, women from disadvantaged background and military veterans to become sustainable and economically independent.

In addition to these factors, a marketing plan is currently part of the training coupled with basic financial management, product packaging, advertising, promotion, and pricing. The current activities involve in the main risk management including target market, potential demand and competition that could be faced by the business based on its products. 

The CSANDF and MCC decision in March 2022, was that “Project KOBA-TLALA is approved in its current configuration for the short-term FY22/23 whilst a plan is being drafted to transform it into a Production Brigade which will serve to support the sustainment of the SANDF in the MT. The Production Brigade will be operationalised in the outer years of the MT (FY23/24 to FY24/25).” 

With the Project KOBA-TLALA pilot project in Marievale and based on the fact that a Production Brigade must be established, the lessons learned during the pilot phase can be used to establish future production units in agriculture for the to be established Production Brigade. 


By Maj Siphiwe Ngwenya is the Project KOBA-TLALA project leader – Marievale Military Base…