FarmForAfrica is in the process of rolling-out three Agri-Hubs in the most northern province of South Africa, Limpopo. These Agri-Hubs are developed around three project that has been identified. In association with SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency) the project is empowering local small farmers to improve their productivity and encourage others to start participating in agriculture.
Due to the lack of assistance in the past, thousands of small farmers have stop production, adding to the already high unemployment and nutritional issue that ravish the province. Vast areas of previously cultivated land now lay waste, covered with invader plants. The people are poor and in many cases hopeless. They can’t see a future. Desperate attempts of understaffed, budget strained agricultural officers trying their best to offer support, but with an estimated ration of 1:35000 they are fighting an overwhelming battle.
A team from FarmForAfrica address groups of people with an overwhelming response as they suddenly see the hope the project has to over. People want to work and develop themselves; they just need somebody who cares enough to walk alongside them.
We have identifies 3 locations where the development program for Limpopo was initiated from.
The project will eventually provide support to large areas of Limpopo alongside SEDA who is organizing the local communities into cooperatives. Previously these cooperatives struggled to survive in the competitive agricultural environment, dominated by commercial agriculture. Commercial agriculture is doing very well in Limpopo because of the favourable weather conditions and quality of soil.
In a survey that we conducted in Limpopo the local people were asked what the main problems were that they experience in agriculture. Irrigation scored the highest.
Many of the issues regarding irrigation can be solved by changing the cultivation practices. Most of the people copied an outdated commercial model and applied it in small scale farming. The result is a heel of 800kg – 1200kg per hectare in a good year. There is little understanding of soil and moisture preservation. The soil is nutritionally depleted, and that while the people are surrounded with resources to fertilize and restore the balances.
We are pushed for time to put as many as possible people in the communities though training before the coming planting season.
Between SEDA, DUFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and other private companies the security, fencing and equipment is funded, while the Agri-Hub is responsible for the continued training, production standards and marketing. This joint effort by the various stakeholders is bringing about a transformation in small agriculture in Limpopo.
Steilloop is a village located on the M11 between Mokopane and the Botswana border. The initiate community consist of about 4500 people, but the project will expand to the surrounding villages that will total to about 50 000 people. The project focuses on goat production with a small vegetables component to ensure food security among the local people. Within a few months the project will market 860 goats per month. This will increase to 2900 per month as the bordering villages become incorporated into the project.
Elim is a village located on the heart of Venda surrounded by 320 000 hectares of rural developments and small farmers. This area has about 60 000 small farmers with the ability to produce 300 000 tons of maize on 1 to 3 hectare plots. Currently this area produces less than 35 000 tons. The project is focussed on maize with soya as rotation crop and vegetables. In our survey 54% of the people prefers to plant vegetables while 22% selected maize.
Ga-Rakwadi is a village on the outskirts of Groblersdal. Many previous attends to develop agriculture failed and the community was initially sceptical that the new project would succeed. On closer investigation we understood why the previous projects failed. Like so many project through Africa, money was given to fund an initiative, with no continued support. Small scale farming is very seldom sustainable on its own.
People that have been subjected to subsistence and small scale farming, struggle to cope with commercial requirements like the standards of produce, markets and transport.
Through the fathering process provided by the Agri-Hub, we ensure that small farmers have the best chance of surviving in the commercial arena. The project will focus on cattle and goats with the second phase building an abattoir and packaging facility.