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Agro-processing News South Africa

Development partnership to help establish smallholder farmers

Buhle Farmers' Academy, Monsanto South Africa and Mondi Zimele is partnering to establish smallholder farmers in rural areas in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The collaboration aims to ensure that individuals in these rural areas get access to technical, production, managerial, financial, marketing skills and business support services needed to farm.
Alandmanson via
Alandmanson via Wikimedia Commons

With limited employment opportunities in the greater Piet Retief area, the economic utilisation of available agricultural land is important. These opportunities can, however, only be unlocked with the appropriate technical, production, managerial, financial and marketing skills. The initiative seeks to generate synergy by combining the successful agricultural training and business support services that Buhle Farmers’ Academy has developed, with the extensive SMME business skills development and funding services of Mondi Zimele. A new Buhle satellite campus will be established near Piet Retief.

It is anticipated that the project will create about 1,757 new permanent jobs, 261 seasonal short term jobs, 1,430 trained beneficiaries and 15 internship opportunities. The plan is to establish and support 668 sustainable farming enterprises.

Funding

The total monetary value of the four-year project is R63,7 million with Treasury’s Jobs Fund providing R26,9 million and equivalent matched funding provided by Monsanto SA R7,5 million, plus contributions by Buhle, MZ and others. An additional R10 million will be available from Mondi Zimele for startup loans to farmers administered by MZ. Repaid loan amounts will be recycled in order to help as many farmers who meet the loan criteria as possible to start and grow their businesses.

Access to the value chain is particularly difficult and challenging for newly established farmers in remote areas. The project will address this challenge by selecting potential farmers and equipping them with the necessary technical, marketing, business skills. Mondi Zimele has linkages with potential markets that can be brought into the project.

Besides Buhle’s current nationwide reach from Delmas, many additional beneficiaries of the project’s new satellite campus near Piet Retief will come from the greater Mkhondo area and adjacent areas in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The initiative plans to assist individuals in establishing farming business enterprises in these remote areas.

Partnerships are essential

“Being a company entirely focused on agricultural products and solutions, Monsanto recognises that there are many challenges in delivering research results and training to the great diversity of needs, conditions and farming types in South Africa as well as the rest of Africa. It is clear that a range of approaches will be required, and especially those involving partnerships. Partnerships are essential if we wish to create and contribute to a sustainable agricultural sector in the country. Our partnership with Buhle goes back more than 16 years. Monsanto donated a research farm near Delmas to start the Buhle Academy and was the founding partner who provided Buhle with the start-up capital they needed back in 2000.”

“The Buhle Farmers’ Academy is an important partner in the field of enabling farmers on the road to success. Improved seeds, biotechnology, good agricultural practices and conservation agriculture are tools that undoubtedly contribute towards food production and productivity gains in South Africa. By assisting and training farmers in good agricultural practices, we are stepping out on the road towards sustainable food production and the use of resources and transformation of agricultural in the country,” says Kobus Steenekamp, managing director Monsanto SA.

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