The private sector has shown its commitment to developing black smallholder farmers in the province, with all 11 of the agricultural commodity groups that have been part of the Western Cape department of agriculture's commodity approach to land reform, signing new MOUs last week.
Under the commodity approach, the commodity groups have committed to helping black smallholder farmers and land reform beneficiaries become more successful through access to markets for their goods, mentorship and training. The commodity groups have also contributed funding and in-kind support towards the implementation of successful land reform projects in the province.
"Agricultural development is a process and government alone cannot achieve success without private sector involvement. New black farmers are supported by the department of agriculture through all of its programmes, but the required information and skill sets lie in the broader agricultural sector," said minister of economic opportunities, Beverley Schäfer.
Government most often does not have enough funding and capacity to support new entrants to run successful agricultural businesses, said Schäfer.
"The success confirmed through an independent evaluation on the support to agricultural land reform beneficiaries and new entrants, shows a great achievement, but this was not done in isolation. So, the continued commitment of the private sector was confirmed through the signing of memoranda of agreements last Friday."
During the next three years, the Western Cape’s department of agriculture will allocate over R1 billion of its budget towards land reform projects, with R315,655 million allocated to farmer support and development in the current financial year.
Since 2014, more than 200 mentors across all the commodities have been appointed to support smallholder farmers and land beneficiaries, at no cost to the department of agriculture or to the farmers themselves.
The minister said supported farmers were experiencing real success as a result of the partnership between the department, the commodity groups and the public entity, Casidra. "A recent independent study found that 72% of all land reform projects receiving support from the department, are successful," she said.
Among the successful projects managed under the commodity approach, was a commercialisation programme for fruit farmers, funded by the Jobs Fund in which 210ha of fruit have been planted since 2016 for black producers.
"The Western Cape is the only province to have perfected the commodity approach and we believe that with continued partnerships like these, we have the ability to build black smallholder farmers into commercial success stories," said Schäfer.
The 11 commodity groups are:
• The Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust
• Potatoes South Africa
• Grain SA
• The South African Poultry Association
• The Red Meat Producers Organisation
• The National Wool Growers Association
• The South African Table Grape Industry
• South African Pork Producers Association
• The South African Citrus Growers’ Association
• The Seed Industry.
"We want to thank these groups for partnering with us for another five years and invite other commodity groups to speak to us to see how they can help in the future," said Schäfer.