The Floraton Primary School is situated on the northern fringe of Richards Bay in Aquadene. Many of the pupils attending the school has a parent or parents that are employees of the companies and organisations operating in the surrounding area, or unemployed.

Richards Bay is seen to be the economic centre of the Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal region. The deep-water port has become the facilitating mechanism for economic activity in the area, and as such has drawn many workers from outer rural areas to the towns centre, looking for employment.

Given the economic climate in the country and the region, new employment opportunities are limited, which has led to the increase of informal, poverty-stricken settlements in and around Richards Bay. According to the Deputy Dean of Research and Internationalisation at the University of Zululand Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law Professor Irrshad Kaseeram, the unemployment rate in for the Empangeni-Richards Bay hub and its immediate surrounds is between 35 and 39%. ‘Since the Empangeni-Richards Bay economic hub is located within a rural sub-region one can expect a much higher unemployment rate when compared to the national average,’ he said. With 74.19 percent of the population in this area being under the age of 34 years, it therefore becomes imperative that initiatives are taken to create a means for self-sustainable food production and income generation.

With agriculture being the fastest and most cost mechanism for activating economic activities, vegetable farming was identified as the simplest, most cost effective, and replicable means to teach the youth the principles of business and self development. As an active participant in the service industry for businesses, and members of the community in the region, SME HVAC has recognised this need and has taken hands with the IRCD/NuNet to facilitate a mechanism to teach the principles of farming to the young people in the Richards Bay and Kwa-Zulu Natal region. SME HVAC is presently supporting the FLORATON PRIMARY SCHOOL in the Aquadene community of Richards Bay through the restoration of their class-rooms, and the provision of material support to this primary school. The school is challenged with the situation of having to provide a large number of it’s 900 pupils meals on a daily basis, as many of these children come from poverty-stricken homes and do not have the correct form of nourishment on a daily basis.

It was therefore decided by the management of the SME HVAC to assist the FLORATON PRIMARY SCHOOL in training the their pupils in the principles of micro vegetable farming and how to establish their own micro vegetable farms through the Farmer Kidz Programme, to establish a training facility where other schools from the surrounding area can also be trained in this technique, and to create and maintain a vegetable production unit that can supplement the schools existing feeding programme for the pupils of the school.