FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information: Embassy Spokesperson Cindy Harvey: USEmbassySAPress@state.gov
A new initiative is bringing South African small farmers together to deliver affordable, nutritious, fresh produce to consumers at savings of up to 25%.
While news headlines proclaim food price spikes as a result of the recent drought, the founders of the new Pretoria Food Co-operative (Co-op) believe there is ample affordable fresh produce available in South Africa. However, much of this fresh produce does not reach the end consumer because it is grown on small farms by emerging farmers off the beaten track. “These small farmers don’t meet the criteria to supply major retail chains, so they often simply sell their produce at their farms or through roadside stalls. The average consumer does not have access to this produce,” explains Daniel van Boxel, one of the co-founders of the new Pretoria Food Co-op.
Members of the Co-op showcased their products at an event at the home of U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, Catherine Hill-Herndon, on May 4. She said, “direct marketing from small farmers to consumers is proving very successful elsewhere in the world. We hope the Pretoria Food Cooperative will grow and other entrepreneurs will give direct sales a try. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging this initiative because we know that helping small farmers makes sense. This is how opportunities are created for them and how South Africa will develop a new generation of farmers for the land.”
The new Co-op model, initiated in Pretoria by a team of co-op and agriculture experts, including some from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will offer small farmers access to financial support, equipment loans, mentorship and markets. The markets will grow around a new online portal being built by the Pretoria Co-op, where consumers can order deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables at a considerable saving. They can also buy processed produce (pre-shredded or chopped) and even baked goods, jams and preserves produced by participating farms or “home” entrepreneurs.
The model, encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, is attracting interest from existing co-ops and farming communities across South Africa and into the rest of Africa.
The Pretoria Food Co-operative (Co-op), showcased its plans and the produce of its members at an event hosted in partnership with the USDA at the US Deputy Chief of Missions residence in Pretoria this week.
For further information, contact the Pretoria Food Co-Op at 082 581 2145 or www.ptavoedsel.co.za