/ 14 July 2011

Small farmers to be brought into the fold

A new project aims to help integrate small-scale farmers in Limpopo into the formal food supply chain, the Pleiad Foundation said on Thursday.

“Through the agri-consolidator project we aim to successfully integrate a group of 10 to 12 previously disadvantaged farmers in the Limpopo Province into the formal food supply chain over a period of 10 months,” said Richard Parker, project director for the Pleiad Foundation.

The Pleiad Foundation is working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development on the project which they plan to roll out to other parts of South Africa, including Upington, Worcester and Pietermaritzburg from 2012.

The pilot phase started in Tzaneen in February and will end in December 2011.

The foundation was meeting various interested parties in Johannesburg on Thursday to review progress.

The project aims to develop farm workers’ skills in farm management, production and business administration and give them access to working capital and investment funds.

“Access to capital and adequate infrastructure are two key barriers to market entry for small-scale farmers,” said Parker.

“They need substantial infrastructure to be competitive and thus an integrated approach which delivers both capacity and investment funding is needed to stimulate growth in this sector.”

Gareth Ackerman, chairperson of the Pleiad Foundation, said small-scale farmers could be part of the solution to global food insecurity and reducing poverty.

“Small-scale farmers can play a far more instrumental role in curbing food insecurity given the right investments, governmental policies and development programmes,” Ackerman said. — Sapa