Massmart’s Supplier Development Fund initiative, Ezemvelo, rolls out to four provinces
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Massmart’s Direct Farm Programme, Ezemvelo, launched in August 2012, under the auspices of the group’s Supplier Development Fund, continues to extend its reach and is now operating in four provinces in South Africa, namely Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Commenting on the, programme’s progress, Massmart’s Supplier Development Manager Sherry-Lee Singh, said: “We bought 5144 tons of vegetables from Ezemvelo farmers for our stores last year. By October 2013 we’re anticipating 3000 tons to be delivered by participating farmers.”
By the end of December 2012,440 individual farmers had enrolled in the farm programme to supply Massmart. This has since grown to 162smalll-holder farmers.
A new comer to the programme is The Gift of Service Farmers’ co-operative in KwaZulu-Natal, which comprises 27 farmers, 18 of them women, spread across four sites around Inanda Dam. They currently supply spinach and cabbage to Cambridge Food in Durban. They have 4.5 hectares under production which is likely to double in the next few months.
Through Ezemvelo, farmers are mentored by a commercial farmer and receive training on crop production. Hygrotech, Massmart’s crop production training partner, has designed a series of agriculture training manuals targeting new entrant farmers. The organisation assists the Gift of Service farmers by providing them with access to quality inputs (such as seed) and training on sustainable farming practices which will lead to improved yields. Hygrotech has al so issued all participant farmers with a loyalty card providing them with access to discounts on seed.
Paddy de Vries, Hygrotech’s National Technical Manager, said, “Our guidance has been well received by the farmers and we look forward to rolling out our training curriculum into more project sites where Massmart’s farm programme is in operation.”
The Gift of Service farmers have also been working closely with a commercial farmer who has been giving them guidance on how to cultivate and manage their spinach and cabbage e crops.
The farmers have benefited from a zero interest input loan from Massmart which they have used to purchase seed, fertiliser and irrigation implements.
Over the past three months Gift of Service has generated sizeable gross sales which are expected to grow over the next few months as their harvesting peaks.
Hygrotech was founded in 1984 and is market leader in vegetable seed marketing and distribution in South Africa. It has designed a series of agriculture training manuals targeting new entrant farmers that address the full spectrum of farming from an introduction to sustainable agricultural practices to crop specific production modules for fruit and vegetables that are widely grown by smallholder farmers in South Africa.
About Massmart’s Supplier Development Fund
Massmart has established a Supplier Development Fund to assist developing South African suppliers, in particular, any Small- to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME), either black-owned, black-empowered or is a local manufacturer of products. The purpose of the fund is to assist our suppliers in enhancing the quality of their products, thereby improving our procurement and supply chain regime.
The Direct Farm programme is aimed at identifying, developing and supporting small and medium sized farmers to supply Massmart with fresh produce on an on-going basis and will ensure they benefit from the Group’s fresh produce retail proposition.