Editor's Note

Mentoring brings transformation

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Consensus is beginning to emerge that for transformation in the agricultural sector to succeed, emerging farmers must be fast-tracked into commercial farmers and provided with the training, mentoring and support necessary to succeed on the competitive global stage. The history of transformation is littered with farms that have failed for want of appropriate skills and finances. Fortunately, the private and public sectors have learnt how to collaborate and their efforts are bearing fruit.

The potato industry is a leader in this regard. Recently it was reported in the media that former subistence farmers in the OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape have become commercial potato farmers and multiplied their production volumes thanks to a three-year mentorship and development programme between Potatoes South Africa and Eastern Cape state entities.

Seven co-operatives each received R500 000 from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, while training and market support were provided by the Ntinga OR Tambo Development Agency, Kei Fresh Produce Market and Potato SA.The farmers were also trained in book-keeping with the help of the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries contributed training in book-keeping. The farmers’ ultimate aim is to produce potatoes for potato chips.

In parallel, Joburg Market is planning to help emerging farmers achieve the quality standards required to market their produce.

Such initiatives demonstrate that the “sweet spot” for South African agriculture is the gap between emerging and commercial farmers. It is fertile soil for investment, opportunity and growth.

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