People's Post

Farmers get R40m boost

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Farmers and locals will benefit from a R40 million investment in the Philippi Horticulture area.

Following council approval, the City of Cape Town has signed an agreement with the Philippi Economic Development Initiative (Pedi), a non-profit company and local implementing partner of the City.

“The purpose of the project is to revitalise small and medium business urban farming, offer training and increase job opportunities in Philippi. This investment comes at a time when Covid-19 is threatening the health and livelihood of local communities,” says mayor Dan Plato in a statement. “Collaboration between the local government, communities, the private sector and non-governmental organisations is needed more than ever before in strengthening our resilience and overcoming challenges.”

The project is located within the Philippi Opportunity Area and will include an expanded and upgraded agri-processing and packaging plant with the necessary equipment and technology to enable a variety of processes, an expanded waste-to-fertiliser manufacturing facility, including earthworm farming, that will assist in reducing solid waste volumes at landfills and benefit the environment and a modern agri-training facility and support centre, offering a wider variety of training and skills development programmes related to small-scale organic farming methods and principles, as well as business development and support services.

The City has already established the Philippi Fresh Produce Market. The 5 000m² property was launched in November 2006 in a joint venture between the City and the provincial department of agriculture.

At its launch, the market consisted of sales halls for wholesalers and brokers, rooms for 15 retailers and 40 downstream traders, central packhouse, processing facilities, a banana ripening centre, dairy outlet, flower retailing outlet, composting plant, seedling nursery and transport system.

The facility cost R34 million to establish and is situated on the corner of Stock Road and Market Street and is aimed at facilitating a more cost-effective distribution of fresh produce, boosting the emerging farming sector and acting as a development catalyst for the greater Philippi area.

Mayco member for economic opportunities James Vos says: “We also intend to expand the Philippi Fresh Produce Market to include a new market facility providing local access as an alternative for small-scale and emerging community farmers to trade at lower costs. Importantly, the project is also a pilot in support of establishing an ‘Aerotropolis’ in the Metro-south East, to leverage a possible Special Economic Zone at ACSA’s 500ha Swartklip site and an industrial complex geared towards mass processing of fresh produce grown in the PHA.”

Marian Nieuwoudt, the Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment, says: “Philippi has significant potential for economic development given that it is close to the Cape Town International Airport, has a well-established industrial area in the east, and its proximity to the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) that produces in excess of 100 000 tons of fresh produce per year. By tapping into the productive capacity of the PHA the City can begin to strengthen existing agri-value chains, while at the same time improving local farmers’ market access by using the existing infrastructure at the City’s Philippi Fresh Produce Market.”

She continues that the Philippi Opportunity Area has been identified by the City as a catalytic precinct for significant revitalisation and development.

Nieuwoudt says the grant funding was secured from National Treasury for this project.

“In the midst of the current tough economic climate, it is a huge accomplishment in itself. The infrastructure and envisioned improvements at this site will be used for the processing and beneficiation of locally harvested produce; it will also offer small and medium enterprises and emerging farmers access to a market and has the potential of directing some of the processed produce for export via the Cape Town International Airport’s ‘air access initiative’,” she says.

Skills development, training, and business development services form part of the project and the goals will be determined and monitored in partnership with Pedi.

“What we want to achieve here is the creation of job opportunities, the development of local small scale commercial farmers, and in the end, economic development that will be to the benefit of the broader Philippi community, its local residents, farmers and business community,” she says.

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