SPAR South Africa has once again been announced as the winner of the prestigious Rural and Township Development category for its Rural Hub Programme at the prestigious 2021 ABSA Business Day Supplier Development Awards.
The Awards celebrate companies that are building a better South Africa. 2021 is the second year in a row that the SPAR Rural Hub Programme has been awarded the coveted accolade. James Lonsdale, SPAR South Africa’s Sustainability Manager, couldn’t be more proud and says the ongoing recognition for the programme acknowledges the remarkable commitment of everyone involved.
“Smaller producers have traditionally struggled to enter value chains and face many obstacles, so the Rural Hub was designed to overcome these hurdles. Today, they provide fresh produce to SPAR Distribution Centres under the Freshline Brand. What doesn’t meet our requirements is sold into local communities, with a positive knock-on effect for food security and nutrition in these communities”, says James.
Started in 2016, the Rural Hub Programme is SPAR’s response to the importance to pull emerging farmers into the formal economy. The programme is a collaboration between small-scale farmers, SPAR input suppliers and funders. The Hub contributes to food security, food safety, nutrition, job creation and transformation by empowering small-scale farmers through skills transfer and economic participation.
The first Hub was established in Limpopo with five small-scale farmers producing vegetables on 22 hectares of farmland. Since then, it has expanded to 13 farmers on 126 hectares. This initiative delivers on SPAR South Africa’s goal to develop sustainable, scalable and commercial farming operations in rural areas. To further support this, the participating farmers receive training covering all aspects of farm management and food safety, provided by an in-house team of qualified agronomists.
Some of the participants are becoming full-fledged commercial farmers, as yields reach commercial farming quality and quantity, opening up more opportunities to sell their produce.
“As SPAR South Africa, our purpose is to inspire people to do and be more. Through our Rural Hubs, and our drive to support and empower small-scale local farmers, we have been able to deliver on this. The programme has given us the opportunity to create jobs and sustain local economies by nurturing an ecosystem that alleviates poverty and provides affordable, nutritious food for all”, James concludes.