The reason for the visit was to study the direct farming model employed by Walmart and small-scale farmers in the country.
Walmart uses the model to develop smallholder fresh produce farmers by offering them training and market access through its stores. This also helps them to secure finance through offtake agreements with Walmart.
According to Joemat-Pettersson, the visit to Costa Rica could be linked to a visit to Brazil to explore work being done in the area of biofuel and to look at how Brazil is eradicating hunger and other related projects. “This will help us put strategies in place to further and speed up the poverty reduction campaigns in South Africa,” she said. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has not yet established any formal relations with Costa Rica, but there is a certain amount of trade taking place between the two countries.
Although not in large quantities, South Africa’s import products, such as unroasted coffee, fruit and live plants, from Costa Rica amounted to R9,5 million, according to the most recently available figures – those between January and December 2010.
Accompanying the minister were Dawie Maree (Agri SA), Louis Meintjies (TAU SA), Dr Job Mthembu (Afasa) and Mandla Malishe (Nafu).