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EThekwini to radically transform the local agri sector
​From left Chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning
Committee Councillor Sipho Kaunda, eThekwini Mayor Zandile
Gumede and Ward 102 Councillor Siyabonga Thango stand in front
of the six tractors purchased by eThekwini Municipality to farm
about 1 000 hectares of land belonging to identified within eThekwini
of which 400 hectares of ploughing and planting is underway.
This translates to 300 farmers set to benefit directly.
ETHEKWINI Municipality is focusing on including emerging farmers into the mainstream economy while tackling challenges in the agricultural sector. This emerged at the launch of the eThekwini Agri-Business Programme on 23 March in Ottawa, near Verulam.

The launch served to officially introduce the Programme which aims to address barriers in the food value chain and fast-track the economic inclusion of the poverty-stricken black majority in the agricultural sector.

Small and emerging farmers from the outskirts of eThekwini were provided with insight on how the Programme will assist farmers to access opportunities and reduce dependency on state support while increasing agricultural land utilisation. The launch also served as a platform for small-scale farmers to engage with various sectors to deliberate on solutions to access markets. Speaking on behalf of eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede during the launch, Councillor Sipho Kaunda, who is the Chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee said: “The City has devised a strategy which will provide a platform for historically disadvantaged players to participate in the production, processing and distribution of aspects in the food value chain.”

He said the sector plays a fundamental role in the economy adding that through the Programme, the City will be able to come up with solutions to address socio-economic challenges such as poverty, unemployment and inequality. Bongani Gumede from Tongaat Hulett said the company partnered with the City to ensure that small-scale farmers are provided with relevant skills which will help them to unlock markets opportunities. The Municipality has targeted various sites to be used for the incubation programme for emerging farmers in the eThekwini Municipal area. One of the identified areas is Ottawa near Verulam, north of Durban. Clairwood Markets in the South of Durban has been identified as an Agri-Hub service that will be used to import and export fresh food products.

To ensure that farmers are equipped, over 400 farmers have been targeted for technical training and mentorship. This will translate to 2 000 direct jobs in the crop planting sphere alone. The Municipality has purchased six tractors to farm about 1 000 hectares of land of small-scale farmers identified within eThekwini of which 400 hectares of ploughing and planting is underway. This translates to 300 farmers set to benefit directly. With the programme now up in running, the City is currently in negotiations with the private sector to purchase fresh produce from emerging farmers.
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