SPAR’s Rural Hub initiative is aimed at bringing smaller agricultural producers into the grocery value chain. The first one was established in Mopani in the Limpopo province in 2017, with a dedicated packhouse established to buy the product direct from local farmers, who are also given support in the form of grants and loans, mentorship, and training in market readiness, market access, and leadership. All the current participants have been trained in financial management, land preparation, planting, integrated pest and disease management, fertilisation, irrigation and harvesting. Importantly, they’ve also been accredited in the critically important area of food safety: all of them achieved the LocalGAP Intermediate level in 2019, and all will be GlobalGAP certified this year. Future hubs are planned, to build on the success of the first one, some of whose participants are achieving commercial scale, and have supplied SPAR’s Freshline brand with produce.
Comment: Another amazing homegrown initiative that demonstrates the potential for social development and enterprise to complement each other.