SHORT SUPPLY CHAINS FOR ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Since Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994 successive South African governments have heavily invested in fostering a fairer representation of the black majority in the country’s economy to really make an end to apartheid.
In general this has been a success. Relatively soon a black middle class emerged, yet this transition is facing significant obstacles in some vital sectors for economic and social development.
This is especially the case for agriculture.
THE END OF APARTHEID IN AGRICULTURE
With almost one million workers and good infrastructure, South African agriculture is a net exporter of many crops (maize, wool, fruits, wine, sugar, peanuts and tobacco). Yet, more than other sectors of the na-tional economy, agriculture has been disrupted through the transition to a more balanced multiracial society. To better distribute existing resources, post-apartheid governments paid special attention to agriculture. The agricultural reform plan that was adopted in 1994 planned to restitute 30% of arable land by 2014 to descendants of dispossessed black farmers.
However, to date, only about 5% of arable land has been redistributed, which has forced the authorities to reconsider the timeframe and aim at 2025.
ORGANIC FARMING AND DEVELOPMENT
In this situation, many organisations encourage the development of certified organic farming, which would enable significant growth of productivity in small farms.
By strengthening good governance in farm organisations, by training lo-cal field workers and by stimulating the exchange of know-how and re-sources, organic farming does in-deed contribute to the economic and social development of rural communities. Moreover, benefits from organic farming in these countries are higher than benefits from conventional agriculture because the latter depletes soils, pollutes water courses and makes farmers dependent from chemical inputs and fertilizers that become more and more expensive over time. Moreover, the adoption of organic farming techniques fosters women’s emancipation and enables them to earn an income of their own which is generally reinvest-ed in the education of children and health care.
DEVELOPING ORGANIC FARMING IN SOUTH AFRICA
As a member of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), Siyavuna aims at promoting organic farming in South Africa, strengthening producer organisations and supporting the creation of local independent certification agencies. Siyavuna also pioneered the setting up of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS).
Even though developed in function of specific national needs and cultural contexts, PGS in different countries share the same characteristics: detailed specifications based on IFOAM recommendations, a commitment of the producers, documented management procedures, verification mechanisms and a label as well as well-defined consequences for non-conformity issues. Participatory Guarantee Systems have been developed to foster local organic trade and they are more accessible than expensive third-party certification systems.
THE SIYAVUNA PROJECT
Between 2007 and 2009, Siyavuna set up a first pilot project to develop organic farming and trade at the local level within the KwaZulu Natal province on South Africa’s east coast. Small producers of this tribal region did not have the necessary resources or techniques to enable them to switch to organic farming. With the set-up of a technical resource centre, the creation of farming cooperatives, the supply of seeds, the training of producers, support to marketing and networking between communities, Siyavuna has helped farmers sell their fruits and vegetables on the local market.
DEVELOP THESE GOOD PRACTICES
With these successful results in mind, Siyavuna initiated a new project in August 2010 to disseminate and apply these good practices in three other farm communities of KwaZulu Natal. Based on the establishment of a Participatory Guarantee System and on the capitalisation/exchange of acquired know-how from the first project, this new action programme will increase the volumes of organic fruit and vegetables sourced locally from a growing number of producers.
WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE TRADE FOR DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
The project, financed by the Trade for Development Centre of Enabel, has attracted increased interest from public authorities in South Africa as they look with interest at the potential of this development model for other communities in KwaZulu Natal and other provinces in the country.
It is based on the establishment of a local organic farming certification system and the implementation of an integrated organic farming value chain in a province. The project of Siyavuna perfectly shows the importance of organic farming in the development of poor rural communities.
TDC’s contribution: 98,978 euros
Project duration: 3 years
Beneficiaries: 100 small producers of the KwaZulu Natal province