A year ago, a few women from Rethabiseng, outside Bronkhorstspruit, were struggling to make a living off the sales of their chickens to the local community. Today, just twelve months on, a multi-million rand enterprise development initiative from AfriSam will see these women’s dream of having a good income from sustainable farming come true.
This innovative project is aimed at providing sustainable economic development and diversification in the communities where AfriSam operates and forms part of AfriSam’s investment into community enterprise development under the mantle of their Social and Labour Plan.
AfriSam is working together with social enterprise Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) to develop this commercially viable organic farming community project. FTFA`s programme, Farmer Eco-Enterprise Development (FEED) Africa provides farmers with training, mentorship, operational support and marketing assistance nurturing successful long-term social enterprise development from farm to local market, supermarket and hopefully the international market as well.
Produce already sold
The produce from this inspiring initiative is already being sold, resulting in earnings of around a million rand for the co-op members in their first year of operation. The social and economic impact on the whole area, once so poor and food insecure is staggering, particularly when considering the short time frame involved. The dedication of the co-op members, as well as their savvy market sense to grow produce such as five varieties of gourmet lettuce, makes this project a space worth watching.
Under the partnership, FTFA is working with the Rethabiseng local subsistence farmers to develop farming co-operatives to deliver organic yield at the required volume and quality of production necessary to establish a commercially viable agricultural enterprise. In addition, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, impressed with what they saw, installed pack house and cooling facilities on the premises.
Corporate social responsibility manager at AfriSam, Tsholo Diale explains why the company’s support of small-scale farmers through enterprise development is changing lives in a big way: “The need for food security and sustainable livelihoods is of paramount importance to economic growth and development within our country. AfriSam’s partnership with FTFA speaks of our commitment to sustainable and equitable community development within the areas of our operations. This project will enable community farmers to become active participants in the mainstream agricultural economy.”
Agricultural solutions for the continent
South Africa has an opportunity to present agricultural solutions that can be scaled up for the continent, as well as providing its own poor with the choice of livelihoods and dignity. This solution takes the form of developing sustainable agricultural farms through enterprise development from corporate funding.
FEED AFRICA programme manager, Quinton Naidoo says the time is ripe for a new agrarian transformation. Naidoo explains: “The need for food security and sustainable livelihoods among the poor is crucial. FEED enables emerging farmers to join the mainstream agricultural economy and the opportunity to replicate similar projects across South Africa can have a significant impact on poor communities and their sustainability.” With the corporate investment of organisations such as AfriSam, FEED Africa not only has the ability to change the lives of emerging farmers across South Africa today, but with the long-term sustainability of the projects, these lives remain changed indefinitely.