Marketing training for farmers

With so much effort being put into developing the Agriculture Programme the need to develop the market side of the programme has become even more urgent. After last year’s workshop on the basic principles and the women’s ability to source and supply local markets, even in trying dry conditions in several communities, efforts were now focused on a training visit to see the results of fruit tree orders and planting. This took the Swayimane farmers to a small working commercial avocado farm (Hawthorne Hill) owned by a female farmer.

Aim of the training

To develop the ability of Swayimane farmers to reach greater markets in addition to their local community. The intention was for the farmers to begin to understand all the preparation that is needed in farming to make it viable and sustainable for years to come.

Objective

To equip farmers with the skills needed to reach a commercial level in fruit tree farming practices.

Results

They learnt how to plan an orchard, how to plant fruit trees and care for them, how to identify different grades of products for different levels of markets, how to prepare and package fruit for each market and lastly how to approach potential markets as a group under the Siyaphumelela Farmers Association.

The eyes of Swayimane farmers were opened to a further avenue of income generation within agriculture. Most recognised the value of having several products to sell to ensure a year round rather than seasonal income. Most of the farmers also have enough space on their property boundaries to plant fruit trees. The value in sourcing good quality trees and planting correctly will ensure these orchards last at least another generation.

Most importantly the ability for the farmers to recognise the different grades of fruit have different markets and different price tags. This holistic view of the entire process I believe has brought about the mind shift in the marketing of agriculture. Through this exposure, the farmers have now committed to developing their lands and market capacity of all goods produced.

Team of farmersPlanting

Training on gradingCharts

Training on productGrading

Above: The Swayimane farmers at the exposure visit.  Planning orchards, identifying grades, preparing & packaging fruits were part of the training.

Fruit tree training for Swayimane farmers

Farmers were very excited about this training because they received different kinds of fruit trees the month before through the Agricultural Programme.  Although most trees had already been planted, knowledge was shared on how to care for the young trees as well as modern planting styles for the future. The day saw the Swayimane farmers planting a new avocado orchard.  Most of the farmers have avocado trees which were planted generations ago by elders in their families.  After seeing how well they grow in Swayimane it seemed the next step for them was to research sustainable small-scale avocado farming.

Farmers were very happy after the training because they now want to plant new avocado trees on their own in the correct way. The training was carried out by a female farmer and her staff.  Seeing an avocado tree planted was a first for many farmers.

Report by Kim McCall (Zimele Enterprise & Marketing team).

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