Agricultural Value Chain Projects

Ensuring lifelong Agricultural Value Chain Networks for Small Scale Farmers


North West (Bojanala)

Bojanala Agribusiness Accelerator Program (BAAP)

(Making notable strides in agribusiness) 

The Bojanala District of the North West is made up of large numbers of small scale farmers utilising tribal lands on the basis of Permission to Occupy (PTO) documents from their respective tribal authorities. These farmers are generally resource poor, lacking adequate irrigation infrastructure, tillage and other implements. In addition to these challenges their technical and business knowledge is limited, and limits their capacity to be active participants in agro-food value chains. Consequently access to markets and financial services is severely constrained.  It is therefore essential to create a support infrastructure around high potential farmers to accelerate their growth by addressing the challenges highlighted above.

With a grant received from Absa in 2012, More than 13 farmers in the Bojanala District municipality have been recruited and received assistance to overcome the many challenges that they had prior, to technical assistance and funding for their growth. With business plans devised and linkages to markets confirmed, a farmer within the programme are making strides in their farming entities, and has lead to employment opportunities for community members, both permanent and seasonal workers. This shows the much potential that small scale farmers have, with a bit of funding and assistance that was highly needed to make a turnaround for the better.  


(Ploughing Rural grounds for sustainability) 

Ford Foundation

(Accelerating growth in the Badplaas region)

Ford Foundation, has for over the past 6 years, supported TechnoServes endeavours fro development in rural areas, specifically looking at reducing poverty and improving the lives of emerging small scale farmers. As a result of this partnership farmers part of the programs, over the years, have received technical assistance from TechnoServe, they were linked to the market, and creation of Jobs and securing enough capital to ensure opportunity to grow for the farms. Successes and lessons learned allowed TechnoServe to identify a development model that could be replicated in other programmes across other TechnoServe projects. The partnership led to another grant from Ford Foundation of ZAR 3.2 Million, to upscale the current model, and to ensure its success. In addition it has helped current emerging farmers in the Badpaas area in Mpumalanga. 

Currently 12 farmers in the Badplaas area are under the program and receiving ongoing technical assistance from TechnoServe. The end result include, ensuring the farming entities have sound management companies, to handle all accounting transactions on behalf of the farmers, and to ensure that they are successfully part of the agricultural value. Thus the current developmental model has been rolled in the region and will be consolidated by the end of the program, which will hopefully result in the creation of an enabling environment nationwide, for farmers to upscale and grow their enterprises.


Jobs Fund Smallholder Farmer Commercialisation

TechnoServe has received R45 Million Rand funding from the Jobs Fund, which will assist in up-scaling all current program. The program has helped in upscale all current TechnoServe with small holder farmers in Limpopo (Vhembe and Mopani), Mpumalanga (Nkomazi and Badplaas), North West (Bojanala) and KwaZulu Natal (Jozini and Ugu). Across the programmes, TechnoServe has provided technical and mentoring support to the farmers which has been realised to directly impact on the farm’s output and management. Secondly farmers have been directly linked to specific markets. The programme aims to provide farmer support services to 1500 farmers working on irrigated land across all TNS-SA programmes over the period of 3 years. 

As a result, TechnoServe is working with the small holder farmers, and with guided assistance, farmers are seen a positive change, not only in their revenue, but results in employment created within their communities. This will ensure that sustainable farming entities are created and they will be able to be fully incorporated in the agricultural value chain. Most importantly, small scale farmers will contribute to job contribution in South as indicated within the NDP.

(Making use of available Resources to assist Local small holder farmers)

KwaZulu-Natal is known to be one of South Africa's best watered provinces. Secondly the province has vast areas of high quality agricultural land, with over 6.5 million hectares of arable land compared to other parts of South Africa, this easy access to access to water and Land, already accelerates the possibility for successful farming entities in the area .The Midlands area between Pietermaritzburg and the Drakensberg is the heart of this high quality agricultural area. Owing to the good reliable rainfall and fertile soils, the agricultural sector boasts high potential for agricultural development initiatives to contribute alleviate many socio economic faced in the province, which include high unemployment rates, and shortage of skills in some industries. Being a highly populous province in South Africa, large numbers of the unemployed reside in the rural areas, therefore development initiatives need to aimed at addressing these issues.

It was within this context of the available land and water resources, and the need to address high unemployment in the rural areas of KZN that TechnoServe and the KwaZulu Natal Department of Agriculture and Environment (KZNDAE) have embarked on a programme to facilitate the utilisation of the available resources within the province, in such a way that will encourage the development of competent and sustainable small holder farmers by providing technical assistance and market access for agricultural produce, in the Jozini, Midlands and Vulamehlo regions.

The area possesses a large number of devoted cooperation’s of small holder farmers, who have interest in farming in the commercial space. Yet with much difficulty in that many face the challenge having being unable to consistently supply crops that have secured markets and by implication income from the lands they have access to.

TechnoServe brought along its experience and expertise in working with small holder farmers and linking them to sustainable value chains. Thus the KZNDAE and TechnoServe partnership, has allowed for farmers to access resident business advisors, intermittent horticulture mentorship, market facilitation and ongoing business development services and support, to ensure enterprise growth.

Farmers in the Jozini areas have been successfully recruited and have secured markets to Massmart. Whereas those in the Vulamehlo and Midlands regions have just signed they Service Level Agreements and have just begin plantations.

Ensuring that farmers produce high quality crops will equip farmers to produce and supply government initiatives such as the National School Nutrition Programme, as well as initiatives by the Department of Social Development by being a reliable supplier of fresh produce to these schemes.



(Taking strides towards sustainability in Limpopo for Small Holder Farmers)

The Limpopo Province is situated in the far Northern part of South Africa. The Province covers an area of 13.8 million hectares, accounting for 10.2% of the country’s total surface area. The Limpopo Province has a total population of about 5 million people, of which more than 3.8 million reside in rural areas and the remaining in urban areas. Thus there is high inequality amongst those in rural and urban areas, with most of the Black African’s being the majority who reside rural areas. According to the UN human development index, the Limpopo Province is one of the three poorest provinces in the country. This makes is a priority to bring about change and growth in the area, and to ensure that communities are empowered. 

Mutale Agribusiness Development Initiative (MADI)

In 2012 TechnoServe received a grant from Standard Bank of South Africa, to put into action a development model, for small scale farmers in the Vhembe district of Mutale. This model aims to ensure that farmers address the many challenges that they face and to form an economically viable and fresh produce growing sector in the Mutale Municipality. Since the beginning of the programme farmers have gained business and technical skills to assist them with daily operations of the farm and has lead to the assurance of the farming entity’s sustainability and improved farming practices. Aligned farming practices makes it easier for farmers to confirm markets as they are standard guaranteed. Farmer’s part of the programme  also receive assistance in securing access to financial services, for insurance, infrastructure and working capital finance  and to guarantee that there are sustainable relationships between the farmers and financial services sector and most importantly, farmers have been linked to diverse markets so as to develop farmer financial standing and decrease vulnerability to potential market shocks.    

With the grant received from Standard Bank farmers in the Mutale region, are beginning to see they farms grow, and make a profit, matched with technical assistance on site to assist the farmers with their daily operations. Development in the Mutale Municipality can be seen, with increasing permanent labourers on the farms and large number of seasonal workers, due to the complexity of agriculture, which means certain crops are grown, at different season throughout the year.



(Taking strides towards sustainability in Limpopo for Small Holder Farmers)

The Limpopo Province is situated in the far Northern part of South Africa. The Province covers an area of 13.8 million hectares, accounting for 10.2% of the country’s total surface area. The Limpopo Province has a total population of about 5 million people, of which more than 3.8 million reside in rural areas and the remaining in urban areas. Thus there is high inequality amongst those in rural and urban areas, with most of the Black African’s being the majority who reside rural areas. According to the UN human development index, the Limpopo Province is one of the three poorest provinces in the country. This makes is a priority to bring about change and growth in the area, and to ensure that communities are empowered. 

Massmart Direct Farm Pilot Programme (MDFPP)

In May 2011, the merger of US based Wal-Mart and South African mass discounter, Massmart was approved by the competition authorities in South Africa. One of the key elements of the transaction was the creation of a Supplier Development Fund of over R100 million. Amongst other objectives this fund is designed to put into action, Massmart Wal-Mart’s stated objective to create jobs and support local suppliers. Wal-Mart has a global track record of working directly with small farmers; boosting their incomes and helping them become more sustainable. A trial programme has been put into place, mainly in Trichardsdal area of Limpopo, and small number of farmers in Jozini of KwaZulu Natal and, Elukwatini, Nkomazi, & Barberton. This trial will allow for both TechnoServe and Walmart to see the viability of the model and how best it can be up-scaled at a nationwide capacity. 


(Ploughing Rural grounds for sustainability) 

Nkomazi Expanded Agribusiness Development Initiative (NEADI)

In 2009, TechnoServe received a grant from J.P Morgan to assist rural entrepreneurs in the rural areas in the Nkomazi district of the Mpumalanga province. The district has a high prevalence of unemployment, poor education resulting in large numbers of the population being illiterate. The rural nature of the municipality and illiteracy found within the area, results in the shortage of skills.

With high social inequality and limited revenue stream, people in the district struggle to sustain or even find sustainable employment opportunities, with many relying on social grants received from government. Dependency on the social welfare of the country cannot in any way contribute to the growth of the country, hence encouragement of entrepreneurs who wish to alleviate their personal situations while simultaneously having positive results in their immediate communities. The Nkomazi district is an area that boasts much potential for agriculture, and has been identified to even boast much more potential for Sugar Cane farming with the availability of over 45000 hectares of  with less than 10 000 hectares being used, due to the fact that the number of farmers has declined over the years, which have been attributed to challenges that have been faced by farmers, such as lack of farming experience, poor business skill and the most crucial being limited access to funding.

The grant received from J.P Morgan was able to increase the number of farmers in the programme from 2 to over 11 farmers at the current moment. Identifying prospective farmers is the first task to finding the right farmers, who show growth potential and who demonstrate commitment to farming and willingness to learn. Once the enterprise and farmers have been looked and are seen to have the capacity to grow, TechnoServe develops a tailored programme of technical assistance, which is inclusive of technical support and mentoring throughout the duration of the project, to ensure best results for the enterprise. It begins with the formulation of a business analysis and plan.

Farmers are supported for a period of up to three years, during which time farmers will be assisted in order to build their agriculture and business skills to ensure sustainability in the future.

Technoserve does not attend to the farm in isolation, but rather considers many other factors that contribute to a successful enterprise. These include the wider market, sources of finance and wholesalers. Building these required networks means that they enterprise is moving forward and is becoming part of the agricultural value chain, and better chance to prosper.

The emerging small scale farmers in the Nkomazi district grew sales by R7 million and increased profit by R1.3 million. This resulted in the creation of over 149 jobs, inclusive of both permanent and seasonal workers in the farming enterprises. A new wholesaler and warehouse was established, thus further strengthening the market for the farmers.  

TechnoServe aims to have an impact on these communities that goes beyond just job creation and monthly income, but rather empowering the communities to become self sustainable. Farmers in the area can therefore become role models within their communities, to show that that hard work, perseverance and motivation can reap great results at the end and could hopefully inspire many more entrepreneurial activities in the community, which will ensure continuous economic activity in the area. 

Positive outcomes are seen. As Philip van Rooyen, the programme manager in Nkomazi, says: “Some people for the first time in their life are earning a monthly salary, which is not the norm here. One man who works on a farm put his daughter through university as a result of the job that he is doing now. People’s wages have gone towards school fees and clothes. It’s really important for these communities.”

As well as helping nine farmers and their enterprises, “J.P.Morgan has helped us to develop a model that has a wider impact,” says Earl Sampson , the Country Director in South Africa. He continues: “If you work with the entire value chain, ensuring that all relationships in the chain are strong and dependent on each other, then the chances of the farmer being around in years to come are a lot higher. The J.P.Morgan work was instrumental in helping us to develop this business model. We are now piloting the model to see if it is viable on a bigger scale.”  (Get Mandla to say something different)

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