When life gives you a le­mon, farm it

Vuk'uzenzele - - Rural Development - Amuke­lani Chauke If you are a small­holder and com­mer­cial farmer you can con­tact 021 808 5111 for more in­for­ma­tion on the Farmer Sup­port and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme.

THE FARMER SUP­PORT and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme as­sists dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als, es­pe­cially land re­form ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The West­ern Cape De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture runs a pro­gramme that helps new and es­tab­lished farm­ers with a sup­port mech­a­nism from day one – when they need help with fund­ing– un­til they be­come self-sus­tain­able.

The Farmer Sup­port and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme has helped young peo­ple like Wayne Mans­field (33) from Paarl, who has gone from work­ing as a hawker for his un­cle at the Cape Town Mar­ket, dur­ing his school days, to ex­port­ing his own lemons that he farms on a leased piece of land.

Ten years ago, when he was a 23-year-old en­tre­pre­neur, Mans­field turned down an op­por­tu­nity to work at a farm he was sourc­ing lemons to re­sell. At the time he had lit­tle in­ter­est in farm­ing.

How­ever, a cou­ple of years down the line, he changed his mind when he no­ticed an in­creased mar­ket de­mand for lemons.

“I also no­ticed that farm­ers were do­ing what we hawk­ers were do­ing – they were pack­ing their own stock and selling it at the Cape Town Mar­ket. I re­alised that soon there would not be a good mar­ket for hawk­ers,” he said.

Around 2013, a lo­cal farmer agreed to men­tor Mans­field and leased him 12 hectares of land. He also in­stalled an ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem that en­abled Mans­field to plough.

In 2015, he was able to ex­port about 31 tonnes of lemons and, this fig­ure rose sub­stan­tially to 168 tonnes in 2016.

Thanks to the men­tor­ship and help re­ceived from the Farmer Sup­port and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme which saw him re­ceive a Com­pre­hen­sive Agri­cul­tural Sup­port Pro­gramme (CASP) grant in 2015, he was able to put down strong roots and flour­ish as a farmer.

Build­ing ca­pac­ity for farm­ers

The Farmer Sup­port and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme aims to build the ca­pac­ity of his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als, in par­tic­u­lar land re­form ben­e­fi­cia­ries. It caters for emerg­ing, sub­sis­tence, small­holder and com­mer­cial farm­ers.

Project ad­min­is­tra­tor for agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment sup­port ser­vices at the West­ern Cape De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture Sha­heed Martin said the pro­gramme has helped farm­ers be­come self-sus­tain­able.

“We as­sist farm­ers right from the start. This means we help them with the ap­pli­ca­tion process to ac­cess grant fund­ing and once they are ap­proved, we help them with im­ple­men­ta­tion and pro­duc­tion,” he said. He ex­plained that the de­part­ment takes a holis­tic ap­proach and pro­vides the full com­ple­ment of agri­cul­tural sup­port ser­vices, in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture sup­port.

“We have econ­o­mists and they give the farm­ers ac­cess to mar­kets once they are es­tab­lished,” he said.

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