The Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC) is claiming some victories in its Mpumalanga based emerging farmer development programme.
In an initiative ran in partnership with Freshmark and Shoprite’s fruit and vegetable procurement and distribution arm, The MIC has established to have helped the development of ten small scale farmers advance towards financially sustainable farming.
Establishments like the MIC, a BBBEE styled investment company, will be facing increased scrutiny in the post Marikana which sees the explosion of a view that mineworkers have received a raw deal within the post 1994 establishment. A view pushed by the Bench Marks Foundation, in its latest research report, has come to suggest that industry partnership with BBBEE initiatives has not helped the situation.
Established in 1994, the MIC was positioned to redirect profits into the welfare of the mineworkers through playing in the BBBEE equity market. The MIC does not invest in the mining industry. It has grown into one of the most prominent BBBEE investors and has spread its wings beyond the community of mineworkers as can be seen in its small farmer development programme. Its net asset value R2.8bn and has distributed more than R100m via the Mineworkers Investment Trust.
In a statement released yesterday the MIC said the farmer development partnership sees a number of small farmers who have previously sold their produce to the local market, widen their market by selling large quantities directly to Freshmark.
This allows the farmers to grow the production levels of their farms, and provides a welcome boost to emerging farmers in Mpumalanga, as well creating employment.
“It is wonderful to see the opportunities that this project is creating. The farmers are also creating jobs within their own communities – we are seeing sustainable solutions to the alleviation of poverty among the rural communities of Mpumalanga, and the simultaneous creation of commercially viable emerging farmers. We aim to replicate the success of the initial group, to see this positive ripple effect multiply,” says Oren Fuchs, special projects manager of MIC.
Farmers who have between two to six hectares of land and have shown their commitment to farming are screened and chosen by the Techno-Agriculture Innovation for Poverty Alleviation (TIPA) and MIC. They are then provided with capital equipment, inputs and other support, including training in modern farming techniques, in particular drip irrigation. Once their farms are able to produce and harvest fresh products of the required quality, and have passed the rigorous supplier requirements, they are able to sell produce to Freshmark, who supply Shoprite with fresh fruit and vegetables that are sold to the rest of South Africa.
“This project has seen ten farmers create sustainable income and jobs for their communities. As TIPA it is this type of project that helps us to see the impact that even the smallest of opportunities can turn into, if managed and guided properly,” adds Isaac Isaac, agriculturalist at TIPA.
Raymond Sibuyi is one such farmer who has turned his farm into an income generating tool. His eight hectare plot supports several permanent employees, and seasonal workers either harvesting, planting or transporting his goods to wholesale markets such as Freshmark.
“The opportunity that I have received from the Mineworkers Investment Company has helped make such a big difference in my life as well as everyone else who has benefited from the success of our farm, we are grateful for these opportunities and look forward to what the future holds,” concludes Sibuyi.
TIPA is based on the concept of the African Market Garden, part of the Food Security for Africa initiative presented at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in August 2002 by MASHAV, the Centre for International Co-operation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.