South Africa: Smallholder farms creating jobs for women
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 03 Aug 2012
Title: Smallholder farms creating jobs for women
By Nthambeleni Gabara
Tzaneen - Smallholder farms are creating jobs for women in poverty stricken communities, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Thursday.
Speaking to SAnews after she unveiled the Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme in Tzaneen, Limpopo, the minister said the initiative would also drastically help government to fight inequality, poverty and boost food security in South Africa.
"What you have seen here today is a confirmation that smallholder farmers are creating jobs, even though they are not as recognised as commercial farmers. While commercial farmers were shedding jobs, smallholder farmers were creating jobs and that addresses the problem of unemployment.
"In this Ezemvelo programme, the majority of participants are women and black women in general. It is African women who are in the [grip] of poverty, they are the poorest of the poor but through this, we are assisting them to put food on the table as well as earning an income," said Joemat-Pettersson.
She noted that government would not be able to run the programme on its own, and would also not be able to develop all smallholder farmers without the assistance of the private sector and other government departments as well as a commitment from communities themselves.
"Our analysis of why smallholder farmers cannot really become successful is because they did not have access to finance, skills and market, but once the market is available, you can be guaranteed that you will have quality, quantity and regularity," said the minister.
The Ezemvelo Direct Farm programme is aimed at identifying, developing and supporting small farmers to supply Massmart with fresh produce on an on-going basis, in line with the objective of ensuring that small farmers benefit from the Group's fresh produce retail proposition.
Massmart has signed a three-year supplier development agreement with NGO TechnoServe South Africa (SA), which will ultimately link small farmers directly to Massmart stores.
TechnoServe SA director Earl Sampson said the targeted small-scale farmers could potentially form the core of the next generation of commercial farmers.
The programme -- representing an investment of more than R15 million -- includes training, mentoring, technical assistance and establishing essential links to both finance and retail markets.
One of the pilot projects situated in the Trichardtsdal area outside Tzaneen is owned by 73-year-old Jamela Mogodi, who started farming on less than a hectare of land in 2003.
Mogodi, a retired nurse, currently has 10 people in her employ -- seven women and three men from the local communities. Since getting government's support to irrigate seven hectares of land, she now grows green beans, butternut, tomatoes, dry beans and green peppers.
With this initiative, Mogodi will supply various grades of produce to Cambridge Food and Game Foodco stores through Massmart's fresh produce division, Massfresh.
"I so hope that this initiative will help me produce more food and create more jobs for the local community," she said.
Another local small farmer, Samuel Phasha, 37, has been farming on his 110 hectares of land since 2000.
Phasha will get the opportunity to supply his fresh produce to Massmart based on the identified priority produce that is highly sought after by Massmart customers.
For the current season, he expects to harvest a butternut crop, which he will sell to Massmart from September to October.
"This year, I am growing butternut for Massmart. It's good to have the certainty of a market and it's good to have a buyer come to me," he said.
Phasha also has a tractor, which he is currently unable to use because it is severely damaged and requires extensive repairs.
Mncane Mthunzi, the Massmart executive responsible for the programme, said: "We are excited about this programme and our investment in this initiative will assist in job creation, while also contributing to the economic empowerment of participating farmers." - SAnews.gov.za
Reported by: South African Government News Service
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