The goal of the Enterprise Development Programme is to assist in setting up, supporting and growing viable new black owned potato producing enterprises while the objectives are:
- To develop an economic programme that is aimed at sustainable potato production by small holder farmers in order to utilise available land and assist to optimise the maximum benefit of an integrated production system.
- To develop small holder farmers to grow and produce commercially in a sustainable way.
Through the Enterprise Development Programme, PSA has been supporting new black commercial farmers for the past seven years. The initial engagement with the farmers was that PSA will 1) provide seed of between 3 and 5 ha, 2) provide training where necessary, 3) provide technical support and 4) expose the farmer to the industry through the new farmer induction initiative. Linked to budget availability, PSA also committed to supporting 6 farmers per year for 4 years on a sliding scale basis (Y1 = 100%, Y2 = 75%, Y3 = 50%, Y4 = 25%).
Based on the support model described above, there were a number of challenges that farmers experienced; the major one being access to finance and machinery. The mechanics of the model above imply that all farmers participating in the Enterprise Development Programme will need to have own funding for chemicals, fertilizer, labour and also access to machinery. Over and above this, they still had to contribute towards their seed cost as the years progressed.
Lack of own finance to produce potatoes profitably and in a sustainable manner resulted in the following:
- As the farmers progressed in the programme, the number of hectares decreased. They only had access to seed which was contributed by PSA and seldom made the contribution towards seed cost as per the requirement of the programme.
- The tonnage produced by these farmers was not on par with their commercial counterparts and this could be attributed, amongst others, to insufficient fertilizer and chemicals being applied.
- The farming venture not being sustainable due to a lack of technical expertise in potato production.
The above necessitated PSA to adapt the programme by focusing on the expansion of hectares of existing farmers.