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Massmart launches the Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme in Limpopo

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Massmart today hosted an event to celebrate the first harvest on farms participating in its Ezemvelo Direct Farm programme in Limpopo Province . The pilot project, the first of several to be rolled out throughout South Africa , is in line with Massmart ’s commitment to develop local suppliers .

The launch was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat – Pettersson and representatives from TechnoS erve and Massmart as well as farmers participating in the Direct Farm programme. The launch i n cluded a tour of two farms belonging to participants in the Ezemvelo Direct Farm programme near Ofcolaco in Tzaneen. Both visits included an inspection of the farms ’ infrastructure as well as the crops that will be harvested and sold at Massmart stores.

Massmart’s executive responsible for th e programme, Mncane Mthunzi , said : “ The project in Limpopo Province is a significant milestone marking the launch of Massmart’s Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme for South Africa. The farms in the Ofcolaco district will be the first to deliver fresh produce to our stores , including butternut and green beans that have been specifically grown for Massmart. It is encouraging to know that we are creating a demand pull that is incentivising participating smallholder farmers to place more land under production and to grow high demand fresh produce .”

Minister Joemat – Pettersson commended the initiative . “ The participation of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Ezemvelo initiati ve should be viewed in light of our commitment to food security and the empowerment of small holder farmers. Currently the drought in the United States of America has sent the whole world into panic, and South Africa has not been spared. The full impact of rising food costs is felt by the poorest among us, and to circumvent this situation, we have to start producing our own food. We are very inspired by the initiative and have decided to enter into an MOU with Massmart to cement our commitment to empowering our small holder farmers through assisting them with the necessary skills, providing them wi th markets and generally assisting with finance,” she said.

Massmart hopes to attract over 1,500 black farmers to its supply chain in the next five year . The company will train, mentor and technical ly assist farmers, while helping them establish essential links to finance and retail. There are also plans to invest in a pack – house to aggregate fres h produce from all of the small holder farms that will supply the group.

“Our Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme will be rolled out on a national scale, intersecting with those areas of the country where there are concentrations of smallholder farmers who have the potential to grow fresh produce and to be integrated into commercial markets. Limpopo was a ready fit for the launch of the p rogramme. Farmers in Limpopo were already well structured to fit into an aggregating model. Very importantly the climate here gives them an opportunity to farm vegetables even in the colder winter months,” said Mthunzi.

The initiative forms part of a R15 million three – year supplier development deal between Massmart and TechnoServe SA, an NGO involved with entrepreneurship and agricultural development . The deal came as a result of the creation of a R100 – mill ion supplier development fund aimed at improv ing the competitiveness of South African manufacturers and producers as part of the Massmart – Walmart transaction . While the fund itself is under review by the Competition Appeal Court, the initiative will go on regardless , in accordance with Massmart’s plans to create jobs and enhance food security. “TechnoServe prides itself on ensuring that the programmes we engage in talk to the national priorities and as a result our focus on small – scale farming and enterprise development has become central to our mission in South Africa. We bring global expertise together with local knowledge to package farmer support programmes and we will engage with close to 500 farming enterprises in 2012,” said TechnoServe Country Director Earl Sampson .

The Direct Farm programme is aimed at identifying, developing and supporting small farmers to supply Massmart with fresh produce on an ongoing basis and will ensur e th ey benefit from the Group’s fresh produce retail proposit ion.

ENDS

Media release issued by Brunswick on behalf of Massmart
Brunswick SA – 011 502 7300
Cecilia de Almeida – 083 325 9169
Gordon Kgaugelo Letsoalo – 079 510 6127 

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