Value Chain Development

Our Vision

Siyazisiza’s vision is of a robust nation of resilient small-holder farmer communities  that collaborate in vibrant and localized economies, in stewardship with their environment for the benefit of future generations. We work village-based forums to support small-holder farmer agri-enterprises through our Smallholder Enterprise Development Initiative, encompassing two main programmes: 

  • The supply of fresh produce into formal markets; and
  • The value chain development of drought-tolerant and indigenous crops.

Value Chain Development
of Drought-tolerant & Indigenous Crops

A value chain encompasses the full range of activities and services required to bring a product or service from its conception to sale in its final markets – whether local, national, regional, or global. The term ‘value chain’ refers to the fact that value is added to products and services as they pass from one link in the chain to the next through the combination with other resources, for example tools; human resources, knowledge, and skills; other raw materials; or preliminary products. Utilising this market-led approach, The Siyazisiza Trust aims to satisfy the needs of the end consumer by fostering relationships and building trust among all stakeholders along a particular value chain and to better coordinate their respective activities.

Comprising of wide range of activities, Siyazisiza work in the development of value chains includes: (1) Enabling and supporting the development and dissemination of plant species and cultivars through crops trials and seed-bulking and banking; (2) Establishing reliable supply of inputs through securing supply agreements or the establishment of local suppliers; (3) Supporting increase farmer organization through the establishment of Cooperatives and Agri-Forums; (4) Providing smallholder farmers with the necessary skills and assets to consistently produce crops of the necessary quantity and quality; (5) Providing farmers with the necessary capacity for effective post-harvest handling; (6) Development and provision of technologies of production and handling; (7) Establishing grading criteria and facilities; (8) Designing and implementing appropriate cooling and packing infrastructure; (9) Training and mentoring farmers in on-farm post-harvest processing; (10) Establishment and management of a centralised industrial processing facility; (11) Design and implementation of storage systems and infrastructure; (12) Design and development of necessary transport service and infrastructure; (13) Enabling access to finance; and (14) Development of systems to enable feedback from markets.

In working across value-chain development, Siyazisiza is also involved in exploring and developing local agro-processing opportunities and markets, particularly insofar as indigenous and traditional food and medicinal plants are concerned. Apart from opening up new revenue streams and enterprise opportunities for community farmers and the youth, it is hoped that ‘re-packaging’ these plants, along with market development and demand, will have the effect of  acknowledging their value and historical use amongst rural communities, and ultimately influence farmers to restore them in their gardens. Central to the work Siyazisiza does is the establishment of localized Agri-Enterprise Centre or Farmer Support Centres. These are multi-purpose centers that function in a coordinated manner to provide a range of sustainable services to small-holder farmers.

Functions provided by the Agri-Hubs include:

  • Aggregated access to agricultural inputs;
  • Aggregated access to markets for fresh and even processed produce (pack-house, market stall, farmers’ market days etc.);
  • Access to micro-farming expertise;
  • Knowledge sharing opportunities;
  • Formalized training and mentorship;
  • Demonstration gardens; and/or
  • Communication or logistics services between small-scale farmers.

Siyazisiza’s flagship Agri-Enterprise Centre and primary hub is the Zululand Agri Enterprise Centre, which is located in Obanjeni (Umlalazi, KZN) provides a range of facilities to serve our small-holder farmers and to support the emergence of opportunities within the broader value chain.

Facilities include:

  • A vegetable seedling nursery;
  • Agro-processing facilities and infrastructure;
  • Monthly farmers market;
  • Bulk Fresh Produce Market;
  • Demonstration gardens;
  • Workshop and training facilities.

Community Farmer Network (CFN) is a registered for-profit company that aims to meet or exceed the growing customer demand in South Africa for high-quality, ethically sourced fresh-produce and processed goods. A social enterprise of Siyazisiza, CFN is seen as an appropriate and relevant means of separating and better defining the organisations development role from its business arm. It also more clearly directs and locates funding both in terms of source and objective and, with funding trends moving from NGO to corporate, provide an alternative fund-raising arm for the Trust. As such, CFN is a core asset of Siyazisiza, providing not only self-funded income as a business arm of Siyazisiza but also, and more importantly, as a means of accessing funding opportunities which would otherwise be closed to the Siyazisiza. In this regard, the value of CFN lies more in its success in growing agri-business and supply chains than in the potential income it can derive from sales.

CFN has two primary product categories:

  1. Fresh produce: All supply agreements with formal markets are undertaken via Community Farmer Network. All fresh produce is grown by small-holder farmers, according to the quantity and quality specifications of the market.
  2. Processed products: Community Farmer Network is responsible for procuring the raw materials from small-holder farmers, adding value to these and then selling on to market.

In keeping with the mission and vision of Siyazisiza, all decisions, operations and transactions of the company will be built upon a framework of fair trade principles.

Our work along the value chain

Responding to global climate change patterns, and especially in having experienced severe drought conditions in the regions we operate, Siyazisiza is dedicated to building increased smallholder climate resilience by reintroducing traditional and more drought tolerant crops, crop diversification and mixed cropping.

Initially, Siyazisiza struggled to get farmers to move towards the planting of more drought tolerant crops. Farmers often saw the value of these crops from a nutritional perspective but, without any real market for these crops, the take-up was very low. As such, Siyazisiza established a food lab which developed a range of sample products from drought tolerant crops such as Amaranth, Sorghum, Pearl Millet and Beetroot to then take to market to develop buy-in.  The response to many of the samples was particularly positive and expressions of intent to purchase were secured. As such, Siyazisiza established an agro-processing facility in KZN with the necessary space and machinery to scale-up production of those samples for which market demand was identified. The past two years has seen a scaling up of the agri-processing facility in response to increasing market demand and Siyazisiza has now in itself become a market for these drought tolerant crops. The types of products being produced now include:

  • Puffed ancient grains (Sorghum, Millet, Grain Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa);
  • Vegetable powders (Amaranth Leaf, Beetroot, kale and onions);
  • Vegetable Flours (Sweet potato);
  • Milled cereals (Sorghum, Millet, Grain Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa).

Primary markets for this products for which supply has already been secured include:

  • Independent Health and Wellness retailers: The products are supplied to a number of popular independent health and wellness retailers in KZN and Gauteng.
  • Food manufacturers: Siyazisiza supplies puffed amaranth and milled amaranth (with orders pending for dried amaranth leaf) to Umoya Foods in Johannesburg which are included as ingredients in their product range.

To increase the economic value of cultivating indigenous food plants and create new opportunities for unemployed rural youth, Siyazisiza ran field trials and product testing in partnership with the Agricultural Research Centre (ARC) on a range of cultivars at  Thelamoya Phansi and Osizweni, in Nkandla.

Pictured:  Siyazisiza established a mini-food lab at the Zululand Agro-enterprise Centre. The lab was used for the development of a range of sample products from drought tolerant crops such as Amaranth, Sorghum, Pearl Millet and Beetroot, then take to market to develop buy-in.  

Since 2018, the agri-processing facility has been scaling up in response to increasing market demand and Siyazisiza has now in itself become a market for these drought tolerant crops. 

Pictured: The types of products being produced now include:

  • Puffed ancient grains (Sorghum, Millet, Grain Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa);
  • Vegetable powders (Amaranth Leaf, Beetroot, kale and onions);
  • Vegetable Flours (Sweet potato);
  • Milled cereals (Sorghum, Millet, Grain Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa).

A critical component of the production of puffed grains is having our farmers growing and supplying the grain to the factory. One of the key challenges, motivating our trial testing with the Agricultural Research Council, is ensuring that the correct cultivars are grown and that the final grain is of the necessary quality for the puffing process.

Pictured: Siyazisiza has initiated a process of establishing a network of localised nurseries – with the intention of developing them into localised collection centres and agri-centres – in each of its areas of operation. This has involved the development of the ZM Nursery in Ulundi and the Thelamoyaphansi Nursery in Nkandla. Each of these is a seedling nursery and will eventually be developed to include demonstration and trial gardens.

In 2017, following a site visit by representatives of the Ackerman Pick n’ Pay Foundation, Siyazisiza developed a concept for ‘mini-pack-houses’ at community gardens that would create the space and facilities for a more hygienic and effective treatment of harvests in preparation for market.

Pictured: In the same year, the first packhouse was constructed at Thelamoyaphansi Agricultural Cooperative in Nkandla. The Workspace had an immediate and visible impact on the farm. It has now become a central point for the garden – where the members of the cooperative gather in the mornings, wash and pack their produce and conduct their meetings.