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The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is reaching out to emerging farmers and small enterprises operating within the agro-processing sector through its recently launched Co-operatives and Community Public Private Partnership (CPPP) Programme.

The programme aims to ensure the growth and sustainability of co-operatives and collectively owned enterprises in four key sectors – including agro-processing – by facilitating public and private partnerships.

It achieves this through establishing well-coordinated programmes that educate, advise and develop entrepreneurial skills and productivity among emerging farmers and related small enterprises. At grassroots level, this includes identifying markets, resources, technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities that enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of these operators.

Seda’s Head of the Co-ops and CPPP programme, Zandile Ndaba, says the Co-ops and CPPP programme goes a long way to removing many of the hurdles emerging farmers and agricultural co-ops face. “The programme unblocks these obstacles through providing adequate assistance. Apart from educating agricultural entrepreneurs and developing their skills, we also encourage the use of industry tools and models that enhance their operations efficiencies, planning, implementation, monitoring and the evaluation of staff and projects. These are all critical elements in ensuring the long-term success of these enterprises,” Ndaba explains.

Seda has already assisted 44 (forty-four) agro-processing co-ops and collectively owned enterprises across the country through the programme. These include the Tzaneen-based Nkomamota Co-operative, an organic farming co-op with 1 211 hectares under vegetable production, including green beans, green peppers and brinjals. While the co-op successfully supplies the local community, it was through Seda’s intervention that the business established a working relationship with Woolworths, to supply green beans and brinjals. A similar deal regarding green peppers is currently being facilitated.

In addition, Seda provided basic business and co-operative governance training, and helped with the appointment of a mentor for the co-op – an agronomist from Woolworths, who is mentoring employees in the principles of organic farming. The co-op received initial funding from the Co-operative Incentive Scheme and Tzaneen Municipality Mayoral Discretion Fund, and today boasts 16 members and 60 employees.

Other co-ops Seda has assisted are the Zanyokwe Central Agricultural Co-operative and Mzabane Makhoba Trust, both in KwaZulu-Natal, where Seda purchased and installed drip irrigation equipment, identified retail markets, appointed agricultural mentors and facilitated start-up and co-operative training.

Another co-op that has benefited from Seda’s interventions through the programme is the  Gauteng, based Rethabile Agriculture Co-op, where Seda provided basic business skills training, undertook a business development analysis, helped formulate the business plan and facilitated a partnership with the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

The Co-op and Community Public Private Partnership Programme reflects Seda’s aim to provide business support and development services to small enterprises in South Africa, as well as its mandate of ensuring the equitable access of these services to various groups in society. Aside from agro-processing, the programme also focuses on community cultural tourism and protected areas; small scale and artisanal mining and mineral beneficiation; and trading and auxiliary enterprises.

ISSUED BY   The Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA CONTACT    Lindokuhle Nkomonde – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media Relations
TEL            012 441 1210
Date          Friday, 22 October 2010