A partnership between Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC) and Freshmark, Shoprite's fruit and vegetable procurement and distribution arm, has seen a number of Mpumalanga farmers, who have previously sold their produce to the local market, widen their market by selling large quantities directly to Freshmark.
This allows the farmers to grow the production levels of their farms, and provides a welcome boost to emerging farmers in Mpumalanga, as well creating employment.
"It is wonderful to see the opportunities that this project is creating. The farmers are also creating jobs within their own communities - we are seeing sustainable solutions to the alleviation of poverty among the rural communities of Mpumalanga, and the simultaneous creation of commercially viable emerging farmers. We aim to replicate the success of the initial group, to see this positive ripple effect multiply," says Oren Fuchs, special projects manager of MIC.
Farmers, who have between two to six hectares of land and have shown their commitment to farming, are screened and chosen by the Techno-Agriculture Innovation for Poverty Alleviation (TIPA) and MIC. They are then provided with capital equipment, inputs and other support, including training in modern farming techniques, in particular drip irrigation. Once their farms are able to produce and harvest fresh products of the required quality, and have passed the rigorous supplier requirements, they are able to sell produce that is distributed to the rest of South Africa.
"This project has seen ten farmers create sustainable income and jobs for their communities. As TIPA, it is this type of project that helps us to see the impact that even the smallest of opportunities can turn into, if managed and guided properly," adds Isaac Isaac, agriculturalist at TIPA.
Raymond Sibuyi is one such farmer who has turned his farm into an income-generating tool. His eight-hectare plot supports several permanent employees and seasonal workers harvesting, planting or transporting his goods to wholesale markets.
"The opportunity that I have received from the partnership has helped make such a big difference in my life as well as everyone else who has benefited from the success of our farm, we are grateful for these opportunities and look forward to what the future holds," concludes Sibuyi.
TIPA is based on the concept of the African Market Garden, part of the Food Security for Africa initiative presented at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in August 2002 by MASHAV, the Centre for International Co-operation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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