Bridging Gaps in Agricultural Access: Insights from AFAP's Engagement in South Africa

02 Apr 2024

Access to agricultural inputs and market opportunities remains a formidable challenge for agri-SMEs and smallholder farmers striving to upscale their operations. In many regions, including South Africa, barriers such as limited access to market-focused extension services and difficulties in obtaining produce accreditation hinder the growth potential of these vital stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) paid a visit to the GZZ farm in Krugersdorp, which is home to an innovative model called “Farmer Support Through Financing Inputs and Produce Market Access.” This business connects smallholder farmers to profitable markets while supplying them with agricultural materials. The successful integration of small-scale agriculture into high-value markets can be exemplified by Woolworths, a premium market retailer, who facilitated a cooperation between smallholder farmers.

One of the key highlights of AFAP’s visit was recognizing the enterprise’s pivotal role as the largest supplier to Woolworths, offering up to 64 crop commodities. This not only underscores the enterprise’s scale but also signifies the potential for smallholder farmers to access high value markets through strategic partnerships and innovative business models.

However, AFAP also identified and acknowledged the challenges within the agricultural value chains in South Africa. Challenges such as the difficulties that smallholder farmers face include limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure, and regulatory barriers.

AFAP’s engagement in South Africa culminated in a week-long marathon of activities aimed at understanding the intricacies of local agricultural value chains and identifying opportunities for collaboration and support. By fostering dialogue and partnerships with key stakeholders, AFAP intends to address the systemic challenges that hinder the growth and sustainability of smallholder farmers and agri-SMEs in the country.