The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has signed a new memorandum of agreement with eleven agricultural custodians to help black upcoming farmers. This forms part of the department’s “commodity approach” to land reform, which has proven very successful in the province.
This approach involves various agricultural commodity groups, who have partnered with the department and the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas (Casidra). This public-private partnership provides support to agricultural land reform recipients such as funding, mentorship, training, equipment and infrastructure. In addition, they also help smallholder farmers get access to the market, which is very important if they are to become a commercial success.
Beverley Schäfer, Western Cape MEC of Economic Opportunities, says the success of this approach was confirmed through an independent evaluation on the support to agricultural land reform beneficiaries and new entrants. “It shows a great achievement, but this was not done in isolation. So, the continued commitment of the private sector was confirmed through the signing of Memoranda of Agreements,” she says.
According to Jannie De Villiers, Grain SA Chief Executive, his commodity organisation has been working with black developing farmers in the Western Cape for many years and has now teamed up with the provincial agriculture department.
Over the next five years, Grain SA plans to continue and strengthen their support to black developing farmers through various strategies, including on-farm training in the farmers’ mother tongue and promoting information transfer through one-on-one farm support.
Inviting other commodity groups to partner with new farmers and the department in the future, Schäfer says: “The Western Cape is the only province to have perfected the commodity approach and we believe that with continued partnerships like these, we have the ability to build black smallholder farmers into commercial success stories.”