Changing the situation of smallholder farmers
South Africa’s agriculture is characterised by a dual system. On the one hand, there are well developed and capital intensive commercial agriculture companies that cover the biggest part of the country’s food supply. On the other hand, there are a large number of rural households that engage in small-scale and subsistence farming. The situation of many of these farmers is characterised by low incomes, dependency on government support and illiteracy. (Source)
Siyavuna (the Zulu word for harvest) wants to change the situation of the smallholder farmers. The non-profit organisation reduces poverty in rural South Africa in the Ugu District of KwaZulu-Natal, an area where 52% of the population has no income. To pursue its goal, Siyavuna trains rural families to grow organic fruit and vegetables. Since 2010 more than 680 farmers of which 84% are females participated in the programme.
Countryside and city markets
After being trained, farmers join a local Farmers Association which provides automatic membership for one of two co-operatives. The co-operatives buy produce from farmers on a weekly basis, paying them cash on the spot. Then the co-operatives sell the goods in urban areas under the Kumnandi brand. The brand name “Kumnandi” means “delicious” in Zulu and is associated with locally grown, fresh and healthy produce.
In addition to the city market, Siyavuna wants to tap local markets and to strengthen the Kumnandi brand for their produce. Therefore, Siyavuna developed a Kumnandi shop at its Farmer Support Centre, an organic lifestyle learning centre that serves the smallholder farmers. Through the integration of the two concepts, two customer groups are being served at the same time: while the shop attracts members of the public selling them produce from the farmers, the Farmer Support Centre serves the farmers with agri-inputs produced by Siyavuna such as organic seedlings, organic compost, soil ameliorates or worm farm start up kits.
Certificates as a success factor
Within the past few years the Kumnandi brand has gained awareness and popularity. This is also due to the brand’s ability to obtain certificates: aligning its produce to the requirements of the international food safety management system HACCP guarantees the safety of the produce. Additionally, the brand has the PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) stamp of approval, which acknowledges Kumnandi to be an organic brand. Both certificates broaden the possibility for the co-operatives to access bigger organic markets locally and to get an inroad to bigger retail stores.
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