South Africa trains HIV/AIDS patients in farming -

South Africa trains HIV/AIDS patients in farming

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South Africa trains HIV/AIDS patients in farming

South Africans living with HIV/AIDS will be given new job opportunities under a government agriculture project that trains workers in farming.

Premier Thandi Modise will launch the project at a two-hectare farm outside Mahikeng in North West Province on Friday, leading up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. The initiative will then be expanded to other areas of the province.

Provincial government spokesman Moses Kgwele explained the project goal of creating permanent and seasonal jobs for the local community.

"The project is aimed at assisting beneficiaries, who are mostly people living with HIV and AIDS and their families, to (produce and sell vegetables) to local and other markets," Kgwele said in a government release.

The initiative will go farm-to-market, training workers in vegetable production and helping them sell to local consumers.

Kgwele spoke positively about the province's fight against HIV/AIDS.

"As of December 2011, the HIV testing rate was 93%, and the annual HIV prevalence survey among pregnant women showed a decline in the province from 30% to 29.6 % in the year 2009 and 2010 respectively," Kgwele said.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA), AIDS has killed around 7 million agricultural workers since 1985 in the 25 hardest-hit countries in Africa and could kill 16 million more before 2020.

FOA estimates that the most-affected African countries could lose up to 26% of their agricultural labor force within two decades.

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