Several farming co-operatives that had been assisted by the City of Johannesburg to get their enterprises off the ground received a major boost again when they were afforded the opportunity to sell their produce during the City’s Region F Market Day at Metro Centre in Braamfontein recently.
The small-scale farmers present on Market Day were some of the beneficiaries of the City’s Food Resilience Programme, which is aimed at enabling citizens to have better access to prime agricultural land for better productivity and profitability.
The programme also explores new customers to sell their produce to and ensures that the poor are able to produce their own food. It further seeks to help co-operatives generate their own income and feed their families.
At the event, the City provided the co-operatives with trolleys, banners, tables and chairs to set up their stands to ensure the success of the day.
Thoko Nhlapo, Region F’s Acting Manager: Urban Agriculture, said a survey conducted a few years ago had found that many Johannesburg residents were undernourished and there were some who even went to bed on an empty stomach.
“We started by handing out food parcels to needy residents and encouraged people to start their own gardens in their own back yards. We then realised that many of them were managing their gardens well. We then provided them with bigger spaces so they could plant, produce and sell. Now they are able to generate their own income.”
“We hold Market Days once a month where we try to help them find customers easily. We had realised that even though co-operatives were growing their food, most of them were struggling with finding proper spaces to sell in. This is why each region has a manager who assists them with selling,” Nhlapo added.
Nhlapo said on average each co-operative, consisting of five about members, could generate between R36 000 and R40 000 a month in revenue.
Catherine Khambule, a hydroponic farmer trained by the City last year, sold most of her co-operative’s produce by midday. “And we have only been here for a few hours,” said Khambule.
“Our method of farming is simple. We were trained to tend to the crops in roof gardens. I do not think that we would be where we are today without this knowledge. We are living in the Johannesburg inner city but we are able to produce food without using conventional methods.”