SMALLHOLDER farmers often lack access to profitable, value-added markets. In the absence of critical supporting functions – such as logistics and warehousing – farmers struggle to market and sell their products beyond their local, traditional market.
Then COVID-19 arrived, lockdowns were implemented, and traditional fresh produce markets closed under the new restrictions. This made it impossible for many farmers to offload their stock, which resulted in waste and farmers losing out on critical income.
At the same time, however, millions of people across the country were going hungry due to their inability to earn an income.
In response, Standard Bank partnered with agritech pioneers HelloChoice and Food Forward SA to launch OneFarm Share – a digital match-making platform that connects farmers with excess produce to charity organisations and feeding schemes across the country.
The platform is creating opportunities for farmers, especially smallholders, who might not have the capacity, from a logistic logistics management perspective, to move their products from one market to the other and to physically travel to local municipal markets to advertise their products.
Through leveraging the logistics capabilities of Food Forward SA, OneFarm Share collects produce from farmers while HelloChoice coordinates the distribution of this product to those in need.
HelloChoice, as a result of its existing capability of an online marketplace that directly connects farmers and buyers, invited various farmers on its database, from small to large, to join the OneFarm Share pilot.
Pidelta Farms in KwaZulu-Natal is one such farmer that has been successfully using the HelloChoice platform for many years in order to market their fresh produce online.
Established in 1973, Pidelta produces a diverse array of products such as seed maize, seed potatoes, beans, sugar, beef, and pecan nuts. They have farms in Winterton, Kaalfontein and Komatipoort districts.
At the Pidelta farm in Greytown, the packing shed is managed by Vernon Hohls, who has been involved with HelloChoice since its inception. Hohls said Pidelta started using the platform because it works on the basis where their produce is marketed without having to travel to the market.
“HelloChoice is a great free avenue that can be used to access markets that aren’t usually available through traditional methods of selling fresh produce,” Hohls said.
Pidelta joined the OneFarm Share platform during the pilot stage in December 2020. Hohls said they wanted to get involved after witnessing the devastation that was caused by the pandemic. “We could see that there were people out there that needed the product, which made joining an easy decision.”
Pidelta said that they have been happy to make donations to the OneFarm Share platform of potatoes, contributing over 58 000 kgs to date. This translates to about 230 000 meals for the needy. The farm also contributes to other beneficiaries in the local community, such as old age and children’s homes.
Farmers who want to get involved can donate or sell products at a reduced price. Farmers who donate fresh produce will receive a Section 18A Donations Certificate from FoodForward SA.