News: Big opportunity for small Limpopo farmers


Big opportunity for small Limpopo farmers

Thursday, 02 August 2012

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson will today unveil the Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme aimed at developing and supporting small farmers to enable them to supply Massmart with fresh produce in Tzaneen, Limpopo.

The pilot project, the first of several to be rolled out across the country, is in line with Massmart`s commitment to develop local suppliers. The launch will include a tour of two farms participating in the Ezemvelo programme near Ofcolaco in Tzaneen.

The visit by Minister Joemat-Pettersson and representatives from both TechnoServe South Africa and Massmart is aimed at inspecting the farms` infrastructure as well as the crops that will be harvested and sold at Massmart stores. Joemat-Pettersson said her department`s participation in the Ezemvelo initiative should be viewed in light of government`s commitment to food security and the empowerment of smallholder farmers.

"Currently, the drought in the United States of America has sent the whole world into panic, and South Africa has not been spared. The full impact of rising food costs is felt by the poorest among us, and to circumvent this situation, we have to start producing our own food. We are very inspired by the initiative and have decided to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Massmart to cement our commitment to empowering our smallholder farmers through assisting them with the necessary skills, providing them with markets and generally assisting with finance," she said.

Mncane Mthunzi, the Massmart executive responsible for the project, said: "This programme will be rolled out on a national scale, intersecting with those areas of the country where there are concentrations of smallholder farmers who have the potential to grow fresh produce and be integrated into commercial markets.

"Limpopo was a ready fit for the launch of the programme. Farmers in this province were already well structured to fit into an aggregating model. Very importantly, the climate here gives them an opportunity to farm vegetables even in the colder winter months." The Direct Farm initiative forms part of a R15 million three-year supplier development deal between Massmart and TechnoServe, a NGO involved with entrepreneurship and agricultural development.

Information source: SA - the Good News via





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