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Mayor welcomes farmer roadshows
​Emerging farmers from the inner and outerwest regions attended
the Farmer Empowerment Roadshow held in Pinetown on 23
February. The roadshows are hosted by the Municipality to
empower emerging farmers to gain access to opportunities in the
agricultural sector.
A SERIES of roadshows to empower emerging farmers across the City have been held to enable them to transform the sector. The Farmer Empowerment Roadshows kicked off two weeks ago and will be held in all regions in the City to ensure that emerging fresh produce farmers from disadvantaged communities participate in the mainstream economy.

Most recently, a roadshow was held at the Pinetown Civic Centre on 23 February in the western region. Around 70 emerging farmers attended the empowering session. The first roadshow was held on 11 February at the Umbumbulu Hall in the southern region with 89 emerging farmers attending. A second roadshow was held on 19 February at the KwaBester Community Hall in the northern region and was attended by 160 farmers. Another roadshow is planned for early March in the Durban Central region.

EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said these roadshows aim to create awareness about the agricultural sector and programmes available to assist emerging farmers, especially those from disadvantaged communities. “Our main purpose is to equip them with information and impart technical skills that will help them to create market opportunities and reduce dependency on state support.

We want our emerging farmers to also have skills in agri-processing as opposed to selling their products raw. This is going to enable them to rake in considerable revenue,” she said. Mayor Gumede said the roadshows are also a platform to address barriers in the food value chain and fast-track the economic inclusion of the majority of the black farmers in the agricultural sector. Acting Deputy Head of the Agribusiness Department Vuyo Jayiya said agriculture has proven to be a sector that plays a vital role in the process of economic growth, yet the majority of black farmers remain impoverished with no access to opportunities. “The reason we have initiated these roadshows is to ensure that black farmers have knowledge and technical expertise in food production, processing and distribution channels,” said Jayiya.

He said the department is in negotiations with other Municipal and provincial departments to engage local farmers when buying food products instead of buying from established farmers. This includes sourcing vegetables from local farmers for the City’s Soup Kitchen Programme. Emerging farmer Sbonelo Masuku applauded the Municipality for providing such an empowering opportunity. “I am very happy to get more knowledge about the sector,” he said. “I am encouraging young people to take part in this programme and explore opportunities in the sector especially understanding food value chain processes,” he added.

The Municipality runs a training and mentorship programme to support emerging farmers to improve productivity and understand costing and pricing. This is to ensure that barriers in the food value chain are addressed and that the City fast-tracks the economic inclusion of the majority of black farmers in the mainstream economy. In addition to this, the construction of nurseries in four regions of the City is currently underway and should be completed by the end of the year. This will help farmers to produce seedlings to sell to the farmers that will be supplying stock.
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