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During the month of October, FarmSol celebrates its sixth anniversary of being at the forefront of supporting emerging farmers to become more sustainable commercial producers. This coincided with World Food Day which was celebrated on 16 October. The significance of World Food Day lies in the awareness it creates of the global food problem and the strengthening of solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty – something that is at the heart of what FarmSol does.

Over the past six years, FarmSol has paid over R100 million in profits to smallholder and emerging farmers participating in its programmes, bringing about significant improvements in poverty alleviation, raising incomes, and improving food security. FarmSol supports thousands of smallholders and emerging farmers by providing access to the market, innovative funding, extension services and mechanisation solutions.

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FarmSol, as an implementing partner of South African Breweries’ (SAB) emerging farmer support programme, has provided production loans, access to markets, and mentorship to farmers in all nine provinces covering approximately 53 000ha of maize, barley, and sunflower crops. These products are taken up by giant companies like SAB and Siqalo Foods through the Siqalo Grower Empowerment Programme.

As a result of the two programmes, smallholder farmers have direct access to the supply chains of these two major processing companies, thus having their products in the production of famous beer brands and household food brands such as Rama, Stork Margarine, and Rondo.

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Supporting local farmers

Zoleka Lisa, vice-president of corporate affairs for SAB, says the company is proud of these achievements and will continue to support local farmers. Lisa says the FarmSol programme forms an integral part of the company’s environmental, social, and governance strategy which focusses on ensuring climate resilience, effective partnerships for water stewardship, and an inclusive economic recovery through entrepreneurship.

“It is imperative to us to have a sustainable company. Beer is reliant on a thriving agricultural sector and a healthy natural environment. Our operations and products are therefore intricately linked to nature, which is why this is so crucial to us,” says Zoleka.

Aron Kole, FarmSol managing director, says the challenge in transformation is not the farmers or the market, but often a way of connecting these two with one another. FarmSol will continue to play this critical role as part of its contribution to alleviating hunger and poverty and building a stronger, better South Africa.

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“This is of extreme importance in a country with approximately 11% (6,5 million) of its population suffering from hunger and food insecurity, and an unemployment rate of 34%,” says Kole.

Through innovative programmes, FarmSol is working towards a vision of achieving efficient and responsible agriculture to provide the country with food that is nutritious and accessible to everyone.

“For agriculture to be sustainable, it must meet the needs of current and future generations as well as ensure profitability, environmental health, and social equity. Over time, sustainable agriculture can contribute to all four pillars of food security – availability, access, utilisation, and stability,” concludes Kole. – Press release, FarmSol