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Growth for small-scale farmers during lockdown
​Seedlings from Cphikelele Khona Cooperative in Mbumbulu. The
cooperative has kept busy during the national lockdown due to a
high demand for their products.
WHILE many small businesses and the general economy have taken a hard knock owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic, small scale-farmers under the City’s Agri-Industrial and Value Add Production Programme have been thriving.

This is according to the Agribusiness Department. Three nurseries who were the first to benefit from the programme which has invested almost R900 000 into businesses became fully operational just as the national lockdown was imposed on 27 March. Business Development Facilitator from the City’s Agri-Business Department Nelisiwe Gumede said the three nurseries who have benefitted are across eThekwini Municipality.

She said Cphikelele Khona Cooperative is based in the south region in Mbumbulu, Langabi Elingacishi Cooperative is from the north region in uMzinyathi and Inkululeko Youth Cooperative from the west in KwaXimba. Gumede said their department has maintained contact with all the youthowned cooperatives during the national lockdown and they have been sharing some positive news. “It would seem that the lockdown worked to the farmers’ advantage and opened markets for these small businesses as demand for their seedlings is high and thus they are playing a role in ensuring food security during this time.

All three received input in the form of equipment, seeds and compost and went into full operation just as the lockdown began,” said Gumede. Ndumiso Soni, 30, Chairperson of the Cphikelele Khona Cooperative said at first, the four-member business was anxious about starting operation alongside the lockdown. “We did not imagine that it would open a big market for us, but customers came in their numbers such that the demand exceeded the supply and we could barely keep up.

Some customers are fellow small farmers and others are individuals from the community looking to start gardens while they have been forced to stay at home by the lockdown,” shared Soni. He explained that their business has been operating in line with lockdown regulations such as social distancing and the washing and sanitising of hands to ensure their safety and that of customers.

Support provided to the cooperatives through the programme includes site levelling, pole planting, cross installation, table crosses, roof poles installations, shade cloths, pump station installations, irrigation pipe installations and containers to serve as germination rooms and office spaces.

nonhlanhla.mkhabela@durban.gov.za 
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