Massmart kicks off local procurement programme

6 August 2012

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6 August 2012 | Adam Leach

South African supermarket Massmart has launched a local procurement initiative that it hopes will attract over 1,500 farmers over the next five years.

The chain, which was bought by Wal-Mart earlier this year, has already signed up farmers in Ofcolaco in the Limpopo Province as suppliers through the Ezemvelo Direct Farm Programme. In addition to buying produce from the farmers, it will also provide support and resources to the farms to enable them to develop their operations. Massmart, with help from business support NGO TechnoServe SA, is aiming to engage 500 smallholder farmers into the programme over the next year. The farmers will be provided with training and mentoring, and given assistance on financing and other business areas.

Speaking at a participating farm, Mncane Mthunzi, who is leading the scheme at Massmart, said: “The farms in the Ofcolaco will be the first to deliver fresh produce to our stores, including butternut and green beans that have been specifically grown for Massmart. It is encouraging to know that we are creating a demand pull that is incentivising participating smallholder farmers to place more land under production and to grow high demand fresh produce.”

Massmart, the largest retailer in South Africa, will roll out the scheme across the country in order to develop and strengthen its fresh produce supply chain. Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, highlighted the growing pressures of food security. She said: “Currently, the drought in the US has sent the whole world into panic and South Africa has not been spared. The full impact of rising food costs is felt by the poorest among us and to circumvent this situation, we have to start producing our own food.”

The Ezemvolo project is part of the company’s commitment to spend R100 million (£7.87 million) on a local supplier development programme, a requirement of the takeover earlier this year. The fund is currently under review by the Competition Appeal Court, but Massmart said the fund will “go on regardless”.

 


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