The Grain Farmer Development Association (GFADA) is an initiative that grew out of the Grain Value Chain Network. It was initially an informal network of grain producers and agribusinesses in the extended value chain, which met together since 2005 to create an opportunity for roundtable discussions on the agricultural sector in an era of transformation.

During 2015, representatives of the Maize Trust, Sorghum Trust, Winter Cereal Trust and the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust discussed the transformation imperatives and experiences within their respective industries and resolved to work together to avoid duplication of effort and work towards the optimisation of the existing resources. It was recognized that to achieve the organization’s objectives, a more concerted effort was required to address the recruitment of donors, administer the applications and the funding of the various farmer development projects. This approach could ensure that the Trusts become important catalysts for transformation in the country.

Accordingly, as from 2016, the sole owners of GFADA are the Maize Trust, Sorghum Trust, Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust, and Winter Cereal Trust. The aforementioned trusts are the voting members of GFADA and represented on the Board of GFADA by two directors and one alternative director from each trust.

Strategic intent

GFADA’s vision is to establish “successful, competitive, black grain and oilseeds commercial farmers”. The mission of GFADA is “to coordinate, facilitate, monitor, evaluate, advise and support the commercialisation of black grain and oilseeds farmers in South Africa”.

Farmer support and development

Black smallholder farmers are the core target group for GFADA. GFADA work with service providers along the grain and oilseeds related value chains that provide implementation capacity, with the objective to seek opportunities that will add value to the growth and development of the black farmers.

GFADA use its experience in the field to engage with government and contribute to the creation of an enabling policy and regulatory framework for the attainment of its vision. Whilst the four Trusts (the Maize Trust, Sorghum Trust, Winter Cereal Trust and the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust) provide the base funding for the organization, GFADA seeks to leverage additional funding support to the transformation projects from the government at all levels as well as the related private sector entities.

GFADA Programmes

Since its establishment in 2009, GFADA has supported new grain and oilseed entrants by providing knowledge, capacity, as well as grant funding for soil correction, crop insurance premiums, mentorship and production inputs. Over the years, GFADA has grown its farmers’ support programme to all nine South African Provinces. Below are the highlights for all the four programmes in the 2017/2018 season.

Maize programme

Through GFADA, the Maize Trust has been supporting black maize farmers since 2009. About R 14,8 million was approved for the 2017/2018 season to cover crop insurance, soil correction and mentorship services. This is a significant increase from the R7,8 million for the 2016/17 production season for 43 farmers. The total harvest in 2016/17 was 28 025 tons, from 6 600 ha.

The amount secured for 2017/2018 season was for production on 10 701 hectares, however, due to challenges such as withdrawals and lack of access to production loans for participating farmers, only 6 378 ha was planted.

Oilseeds programme

For the 2017/18 production season, soybean and sunflower farmers supported through GFADA farmer development programme planted 797 ha and 1 917 ha respectively. The Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT) and Oilseeds Advisory Committee approved the total funding amounting to R 728 800 and R 657 500 for sunflower and soybean, respectively, to cover crop insurance,

soil correction and mentorship. Through the support of the OPDT, as a GFADA member, the commercialization of black farmers in the industry will hopefully accelerate due to benefits from producing soybean as a rotational crop. GFADA has been encouraging the farmers to introduce soybean as a rotational crop which has several benefits.

Sorghum programme

Sorghum is the fifth most important grain crop produced in South Africa. However, it contributes a small percentage of South African domestic grain production. Over the past five years, sorghum production has been declining in South Africa. The decline can be attributed to, among other factors, limited markets, return on yield per hectare, price competitiveness, bird risk and value-added tax. The appetite for financing black sorghum by financial institutions and service providers is also a challenge.

As a result, GFADA only supported one farmer under its support programme for the 2017/2018 season with an amount of R 237 000 (crop insurance and soil correction) on 100 hectares. However, unfortunately, the farmer could not be granted production finance by the service provider.

As its contribution to regain sorghum farmers and grow the industry, GFADA has been on a recruitment and scouting drive and has to date identified eligible sorghum farmers to be supported by the Sorghum Trust in the 2018/2019 season. The farmers are smallholder producers in Lady Frere, Emalahleni Local Municipality in the Chris Hani District, Eastern Cape.

Winter cereal programme

Despite challenges faced by the winter cereal crop producers across the country, the Winter Cereal Trust made available funding to the tune of R5.8 million to help farmers plant 925 ha under wheat and barley for the 2018 season. Majority of the farmers identified by GFADA will be planting wheat under irrigation and some will be financed 100% for production inputs. Similarly, to sorghum, wheat production in South Africa has been declining over the past years.

In the 2017 wheat season, the Winter Cereal Trust approved total funding of R3,9 million to support 16 farmers to plant 1 061 ha. However, due to lack of production finance, withdrawal by service providers and climatic conditions, farmers could not plant. This is despite the fact that the production inputs subsidies formed part of approved funding by the Trust.

In this season (2017), GFADA directly facilitated funding to support one farmer with full production inputs following the withdrawal by the service provider. The results for the farmer were exceptional and managed to make above average profit.

Climate change and uncompetitiveness of winter cereal crops are major challenges GFADA encounters with regards to the development of black wheat emerging farmers. As a result, there has been a drastic shift in production to summer crops (maize, soybeans and sunflower) by black farmers due to the high risk associated with wheat production.

Although farmers have the capacity to produce enough wheat and eliminate imports, they are discouraged due to these challenges. It is for this reason that the Winter Cereal Trust has prioritized the research projects that address these challenges faced by farmers.

Source: Grain Farmer Development Association (GFADA)

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