Farmers become mighty wheat growers
Subsistence farmers who have pooled their land to create the equivalent of a commercial farm are helping transform the local agricultural sector.
A group of small-scale black farmers is supplying a multinational and multi-production company after discovering the power of unity.
The Baphuduhucwana Production Incubator (BPI) is a 57-member cluster of farmers based in Taung in the North West. By working together, they were able to supply Tiger Brands with over 2 600 tons of high-quality wheat in the past season. With assistance from Tiger Brands, the farmers had a combined 700 hectares under cultivation.
BPI Director Morgan Bonnanye says they began working together after individually struggling to secure offtake agreements.
“When we worked as individuals, we were not able to sell the crops we were producing because the volume of our production was too low and we could not access markets.”
He says BPI was initially made up of 11 farmers who managed to sell their produce to a local retail store. After the initial harvest and sale, more farmers came knocking on the door of BPI and a partnership with Tiger Brands was forged.
Through the provision of the right cultivars, agrarian and agricultural technical support, interest-free loans and access to market, Tiger Brands secured a new source of the wheat needed for its food production services, while simultaneously uplifting small-scale farmers.
“Tiger Brands gave us technical support by teaching us when to irrigate, when to spray pesticides and which pesticides to use so that the wheat is not damaged,” says Bonnanye.
The decision to form a collective resulted in the farmers making a profit of R1.2 million, after paying back Tiger Brands’ R4.7 million loan.
Enterprise and supplier development specialist at Tiger Brands, Siphumelele Mabunda, says the farmers produced high-quality wheat and exceeded the expected quantity.
“Our aggregator model helps bring farmers together so they can meet the quantities needed to supply Tiger Brands,” she explains.
The aggregator initiative is also benefiting a group of Western Cape farmers.
-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.