Smallholder farmers aided

2015-04-30 16:56

THE National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation (Nerpo) launched two of its flagship projects at the Glen College of Agriculture on Tuesday (24/03).

Nerpo stated in a press release that the projects, the Nerpo Livestock Syndicate and the Agricultural Co-operative Bank, are aimed at providing solutions to some of the most critical challenges facing smallholder farmers in South Africa, such as access to markets and finance.

The Nerpo Livestock Syndicate is aimed at integrating South African smallholder livestock farmers in the red meat value chain, not only as producers and suppliers, but with shared ownership of key segments of the red meat value chain.

Aggrey Mahanjana, Nerpo Group managing director, said smallholder farmers had always been producers and suppliers, but never owners or shareholders of any other segments of the value chains.

He believes this has been the major contribution to their unsustainability, as they remained price takers both from the input and output sides.

“Nerpo believes that the participation of smallholder livestock farmers, as owners or shareholders in the entire red meat value chain, will stimulate primary agricultural production, create jobs and improve income along the agro-food value chain. The Livestock Syndicate Project aims at making this integration a reality for our farmers,” said Mahanjana.

Over the past 20 years, smallholder farmers have been left out due to the unfavourable agricultural lending criteria used by commercial banks and other financing institutions.

This, according to Mahanjana, included the Land Bank.

“We still feel that the Land Bank’s lending criteria and requirements were cumbersome and continued to exclude smallholder farmers.

“The turnaround time for loan appro-vals was too long and sometimes contri-buted to their failure to repay the loans.

“Through the co-operative bank, farmers would be able to set their own rules and criteria to lending, probably at lower interest rates.”

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