Mobile factory brings agri-processing to rural farmers

An agri-processing facility on wheels will bring equipment closer to small-scale farmers in the rural Overberg area of the Western Cape. The initiative by the provincial department of agriculture aims to stimulate local economies and reduce food waste by enabling producers to add value to their own produce

Dr Harry Malila, Head of Department and Accounting Officer for the Department of the Premier, Mayor Alderman Franken and minister of agriculture Ivan Meyer showing off freshly made sausage and patti. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Dr Harry Malila, head of department and accounting officer for the Western Cape department of the premier, Mayor Alderman Saki Franken and minister of agriculture Dr. Ivan Meyer showing off freshly made sausage and patties at the brand-news Agri-processing On Wheels facility. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Rural agripreneurs in the Western Cape can now get access to a mobile agri-processing factory that is also intended to spur economic growth and create jobs. The Western Cape department of agriculture’s first-ever mobile Agri-processing On Wheels initiative will offer workshops to interested groups across the province.

The initiative was launched in Bredasdorp by provincial minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer, accompanied by the executive mayor of the Overberg District Municipality, Alderman Sakkie Franken.

According to Meyer agri-processing is emerging as an essential sub-sector. “The Overberg is the 2nd largest agricultural region of the Western Cape with primary agriculture contributing 9% to the GPD and agri-processing 5%.”

Horticulture, which makes up 46% of production and field crops (26% of production) in the region are the sub-sectors that benefit from the initiative, he said.  

The Western Cape’s first mobile agri-processing facility was unveiled in Bredasdorp. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

He added that the agri-processing sub-sector in the Western Cape plays a critical role in addressing the youth unemployment challenge. This is because it employs a significant proportion of youth. According to Meyer about 45% of the employed youth work in this sector.

“The subsector is also essential in transforming agriculture, as about 47% of those used within the sub-sector are women.

“In addition, agri-processing also plays a crucial role in household food security. It prolongs product shelf life and reduces wastage resulting from surplus production,” he said.

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Developing a vibrant rural economy

Franken welcomed the initiative as one that can build food security and employment in the Overberg. “I am thrilled that the Western Cape department of agriculture is rolling out this initiative in the Overberg. It will enable developing agri-processing capacity, agri-processing businesses, jobs, and a vibrant rural economy.” 

Ziyande Hadebe demonstrating vegetable-processing as part of the Agri-processing On Wheels Initiative. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Meyer said the mobile processing units would enable the department to reach producers in remote areas by bringing the processing equipment to them.

“Furthermore, with increased capacity in agri-processing, the region is positioned to increase its current labour intake of 22%, which is primarily absorbed by agriculture,” he said.

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