Support of Community Farming

September 2021. Globeleq South Africa, which owns a portfolio of eight renewable energy power plants, has a keen focus on funding the development of community agricultural projects with the...

September 2021.

Globeleq South Africa, which owns a portfolio of eight renewable energy power plants, has a keen focus on funding the development of community agricultural projects with the view of helping communities become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

“Most of our assets, are based in rural or peri-urban areas and like Klipheuwel Wind Farm, De Aar Solar Power, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, Boshof Solar Power, Soutpan Solar Power and others, many of the local entrepreneurs that we find on our doorstep, fall within the farming and agriculture space. Hence, it makes sense that our Enterprise Development objectives, which aims to best serve our local communities, address agricultural development,” explained Parmas Chetty, Economic Development Manager, for Globeleq South Africa Management Services.
Chetty views the agricultural sector as a key to boosting the country’s development and supporting social structures within rural communities.

He added, “I feel it’s important to use the agricultural sector to help boost the economic climate in our country’s rural communities and ultimately, in the long-term, to keep families together – if economic activity is boosted it means families can remain together as one unit, rather than members needing to relocate to find other job opportunities.”

“We know that the enterprises we support have the potential to create jobs and grow themselves into reasonably large-scale businesses that can feed quality products into the market. Our initial focus with agricultural enterprises in the first few years is on stabilising the farm, securing the operations, growing their herd/livestock and ensuring the growth necessary to supply the market on a sustainable basis.

An example of one of the projects supported, is the Gougakhoi Stock and Crop Co-op, in the Riviersonderend area, in the Western Cape Province. Funding and ongoing business backing from Klipheuwel Wind Farm aims to support the sustainability of this small agricultural concern. The programme is working towards helping the Co-op improve the standard of their herd, an initiative that is being guided by the Department of Agriculture. Most recently, a borehole has been installed and funding for additional fencing has been provided, to replace dilapidated structures. Water security has also been prioritised, as it remains a challenge in the area, as in many other parts of the country. The addition of a borehole will help the Co-op secure water access for both the livestock and irrigation.

“Gougakhoi Stock and Crop Co-op is situated in one of the best cattle growing areas in the country so we can confidently see that this Co-op will be able to supply the market within the next five years on a sustainable basis, which will also help to provide more local jobs,” said Chetty.

“The new borehole will directly impact our productivity, plus, our plans to grow crops hinge on access to water,” explained Farmer Vernon Hendricks, Co-op Board Secretary, who added that the funding will provide other much-needed infrastructure, as well as the business training that the Co-op has been receiving through this programme, all helping to ensure long term sustainability and growth.

Further up North, in the Limpopo Province, youth-owned Mopi Fresh Produce, based in the Bochum area, is one of a number of agricultural beneficiaries receiving developmental support from Globeleq’s Soutpan Solar Power, through a collaborative youth development programme. This fledgling farming enterprise produces spinach, beetroot, green pepper and tomato crops. With the recent programme intervention that includes business support, equipment, seedlings, fertilizers and other assistance, business owner Mapula Rapholo, has plans to expand her supply chain within Bochum and hopefully further afield to Polokwane and the surrounding areas. This will allow her to at least double the young people that Mopi Fresh Produce employs.

Mapula Rapholo, is dedicated and passionate about her business and steadfast in her commitment to growing her agri-business, saying, “Farming is not a simple environment – it comes with different challenges that are out of our hands, so I need to be physically and emotionally prepared to deal with whatever nature throws my way.”

Soutpan Solar Power’s support for this this farming enterprise and other enterprises takes the form of skills training; funding of material and equipment; compliance and registrations; as well as business mentorship. The view is to adopt a holistic approach to development which entails the deployment of funding, business mentorship, building of institutional capacity and possible market access where necessary.

Chetty continued saying, “Farming is one of the biggest economic drivers in our country and we believe that ongoing support of this sector will help to address socio-economic development challenges, including local employment, whilst we help to build community-owned entities.”