Potatoes SA throws lifeline for small-scale farmers

Smallholder potato farmers in Limpopo have been given a big boost following a joint venture between Potatoes SA and the provincial department of agriculture and rural development. The project gives them greater access to ‘the big agriculture value chain’

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Small-scale potato growers in Limpopo are set to benefit from a development project that will accelerate their journey towards the commercial agricultural value chain.

The newly-launched project is a joint effort between the Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development and Potatoes South Africa. It is also in line with the department’s action plan to revitalise agriculture and agro-processing in the province.

Limpopo MEC for agriculture and rural development, Nandi Ndalane. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Limpopo MEC for agriculture and rural development, Nandi Ndalane. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Last week, the first three identified smallholder farmers harvested their crops following months of hard work. These farmers, based in Ga-Mashalane and Gemarkte in the Bochum area, were provided with potato seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, technical advisory and monitoring services.

Nandi Ndalane, MEC for agriculture and rural development in Limpopo, said the department worked hard to help smallholder farmers benefit from the “big agriculture value chain.” 

“We believe that the potential that smallholder farmers possess, if properly supported, will ensure they play a meaningful role in food provision in the province thereby obtaining food security for all and, importantly provide job opportunities to our people,” Ndalane said.

Limpopo accounts for 21% of the country’s total potato production areas with Dendron, Vivo, Morebeng and Loskop Valley being most known for its potatoes.

The department has adopted a commodity focus approach to sustain and strengthen provincial competitiveness in the primary production of high-value agricultural commodities.

Agricultural advisor Nora Mkansi,  crop scientist Ramoroka Mokgadi,  scientist manager Luther Mkhonto and crop scientist Melrose Ramokonyane assisted some small-scale potato farmers in Limpopo with their first harvest. Photo: Supplied/Brian Mashamba
Agricultural advisor Nora Mkansi, crop scientist Ramoroka Mokgadi, scientist manager Luther Mkhonto and crop scientist Melrose Ramokonyane assisted some small-scale potato farmers in Limpopo with their first harvest. Photo: Supplied/Brian Mashamba

More farmers to benefit

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Participating farmers include Lydia Selepe of Mohau and Molebogeng in Ga-Mashalane, Cynthia Mokgobu of Mosibudi in Gemarkte village, and Andries Masoga of Mazeli in Avon village.

According to Luther Mkhonto, manager of horticultural crops at the Limpopo government, many lessons are being learnt from the project’s implementation. “The intention is to expand to allow more smallholder farmers to participate and ensure food security.”

More smallholder potato farmers in the province, he said, are expected to reap the rewards of the collaborative work between the department and Potatoes South Africa.

ALSO READ: Potatoes boss high-fives farmers: ‘We rose from ashes’

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