Programme to improve farm infrastructure and supply
MINISTER of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, unveilled the Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme in Tzaneen, Limpopo, aimed at developing and supporting small farmers to enable them to supply Massmart, which includes Cambridge Food, with fresh produce. The pilot project is 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 minister and representatives from both TechnoServe South Africa, a non governmental organisation involved with entrepreneurship and agricultural development, and Massmart aim to inspect the farms’ infrastructure as well as the crops that will be harvested and sold at Massmart stores. The 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.
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 people, and to circumvent this situation, the country has to start producing its own food. The department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Massmart to cement commitment to empowering smallholder farmers through assisting them with the necessary skills, providing them with markets and generally assisting with finance.
Limpopo is ready for the launch of the programme; the farmers are already well structured to fit into an aggregating model. Very importantly, the climate there gives 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 agreement between Massmart and TechnoServe.