israeli experts train SA farmers

IMPROVED EFFICIENCY: Rafi Goldman of the Israel Cooperative Development Agency teaches Limpopo small farmers. Pic.MONTSHO MATLALA. 04/04/2010. © Sowetan.
IMPROVED EFFICIENCY: Rafi Goldman of the Israel Cooperative Development Agency teaches Limpopo small farmers. Pic.MONTSHO MATLALA. 04/04/2010. © Sowetan.

EMERGING farmers in Limpopo yesterday completed a two-day training on cooperative business models in Polokwane conducted by experts from Israel.

EMERGING farmers in Limpopo yesterday completed a two-day training on cooperative business models in Polokwane conducted by experts from Israel.

Rafi Goldman, international director of the Israel Cooperative Development Agency, said he came to South Africa through the Johannesburg based NGO, South Africa-Israel Forum, to share Israel's cooperatives experience and that from other places around the world.

"South African small farmers find it difficult to embrace cooperative development as a successful model because of the legacy of apartheid, yet more than 850million people around the world benefit from cooperatives," Goldman said.

He advised that if small farmers wanted to make the most of cooperatives they first had to see themselves as businesspeople and be exposed to success stories globally.

Limpopo Fruit Producers Association chairperson Ntamiseni Mankhili said the failure of cooperatives was caused by a misconception that cooperatives were formed by just grouping a large number of people together without expertise and action plans.

"Our eyes are now opened to the realities that management teams of cooperatives should be less than 10 members and beneficiaries may be as many as 300." Mankhili said.

"When you are organised you can access funds and loans for training in administration, management and other needs."

He has set August this year as a target date for emerging farmers to start observing signs of the beginning of effective cooperatives in the province.

Jethro Nowatha, general manager in the Limpopo department of agriculture in charge of districts, said more than 800 cooperatives were expected to benefit from the Israeli experience.

But he warned that people should not expect quick benefits.

Goldman said Israel would send technicians in irrigation, marketing cooperatives, agro-processing and other related fields to South Africa to guide emerging farmers.

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