Potatoes are the fastest-moving commodity in the Easter Cape’s OR Tambo district, said Ikhona Mvaphantsi, Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) spokesperson.
To cash in on this commodity boom, seven agricultural co-operatives in the district have started commercial potato production.
The co-ops are backed by, among others, Potatoes South Africa, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, and the Kei Fresh Produce Market in Mthatha. The co-ops have already planted 26ha of potatoes in 2017, their first season.
Simphiwe Ntshweni, acting manager for the ECDC Imvaba co-operative fund, says some R3,4 million was paid out last year to the co-operatives, to buy fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, and other farming necessities.
The fund has disbursed some R81 million to 153 co-operatives since its establishment.
The seven potato-farming co-operatives are: Vukamntomtsha Agricultural Primary (Mthatha); Ngethemba Agricultural Primary; Mampingeni General Suppliers and Multi-purpose Primary; Living Dreams Farming Primary; Lusikiki Potato Farming Primary; Xhamla Mzantsi Farming; and Masiphakamise Ulimo Agricultural Primary.
Nomfesane Majova, business developer at the department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said the department has started a skills transfer programme offering skills development and training, to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability. The programme also offers support with record-keeping and financial management.
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