Article by Louise Brodie
The increasing demands placed on farmers to provide food safe products to retailers create a considerable challenge for small-scale farmers to enter the retail market. This was the topic for one of the panel discussions at the Food and Agricultural Management and CCA Agribusiness & Food World Forum Conference currently underway (15 to 19 June) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The session was hosted by GlobalGAP, which has introduced their first country-wide program integrating small-scale farmers into national retailer supply chains. The moderator for the session was Kristian Moeller, the Managing Director of GlobalGAP.
The panelists were the following people:
- Sue Chuzu Musunga, Marketing and Communications Manager/Director, AGCO Zambia Ltd.
- Catherine Constantinides, Tutu Fellow, Director and Founder, Miss Earth South Africa.
- Koos Botha, Owner, SA LivestockGAP
- Craig Pillay, Quality Assurance Manager, Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market
- Thozama Vokwana, Technical Manager, Pick ‘n Pay
Consumers are becoming more demanding and there is an increasing awareness about food safety. When consumers shop in a supermarket they should not have to be worried about food safety as it is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure that food safety is in place. Thus in turn it is the job of the retailer to ensure that the produce they sell is indeed safe, therefor retailers now require suppliers to comply with food safety compliance systems and good agricultural practices (GAP) such as GlobalGAP and LocalGAP to ensure food safety.
This creates a hurdle for emerging small farmers who might not be up to the standard to comply with GlobalGAP standards. To assist with this, GlobalGAP has developed a system called LocalGAP, which is a more affordable solution for these producers and provides and entry level GAP certification. This also works for the retailers as it allows them to gain access to good quality food and support emerging farmers.
The South African municipal wholesale markets see LocalGAP as a tool to promote GAP practices, support local farmers and promote access to markets. The Johannesburg market is the largest market in Africa and moves the largest volume of food daily. The market is changing and has introduced the “Project Rebirth” to assist small farmers to be able to supply markets successfully and to comply to the required regulations.
Small scale farmers have a difficult time. Large commercial farmers have continuous support and extension and it follows that small-scale also need ongoing support as well as training in technical production and IT skills as well as financial management skills.
Training for small farmers is far more effective if it is done where they are as this provides the opportunity of seeing exactly what their needs are. A good way to support the emerging farmers is to work through the country’s department of agriculture and assist with the training of the extension officers, thus training the trainers.
Systems like LocalGAP and the Johannesburg Municipal Market’s Project Rebirth hold promise in helping small-scale farmers with their market access challenges.