Paying it forward farming-app
Covid-19 necessitated rapid digital transformation worldwide with an increased reliance on most digital platforms to enable daily functionalities that used to take place face to face, including the provision of alternative means of communications and product distribution channels in order to ensure COVID compliance accommodate world-wide lockdowns and minimise the risk of spreading the virus as much as possible. Apps also became a way to creatively solve unique problems that the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic presented, some of which originated on home soil to work towards solving some of South Africa’s bigger problems.
One such platform is OneShare Farms which was first introduced in November last year and is the product of an innovative collaboration between Standard Bank, Food Forward SA which is a local non-profit organisation, and HelloChoice – an Online Fresh Produce Market platform. The result was a platform that worked to connect farmers that were left with excess stock and crops due to the Covid-19 restrictions with organisations that facilitated feeding schemes and programmes in “vulnerable communities.”
Since the platform’s inception towards the back end of 2020, over 270 tonnes of produce that was destined for a very different fate – namely condemned to be waste, was in fact converted into meals for almost 200,000 people in need. With lockdown inhibiting normal retail and restaurant trading, there was an excess of produce that had been planted in advance and in anticipation of normal trading and demand. The National Incomes Dynamic Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile service, otherwise known by its acronym NIDS-CRAM is a panel survey that is conducted every month and surveys 7,000 individuals in order to establish “nationally-representative data on key outcomes such as unemployment, household income, child hunger and access to government grants.”
The onset of the pandemic highlighted the gap between South Africa’s commercial farmers versus those that qualify as emerging farmers. SA’s emerging farmers lack substantial support in the market as they constitute the vast majority of the farmers in the country. There are an estimated 38,000 commercial farms in SA as of 2020 according to Parliament; however there is no official data available on this. Although the market was tough across the board, many commercial farms had alternative means of distributing and generating revenue from their crops through export, leaving emerging farmers to fight it out in saturated markets. On the other side of the spectrum, “the need for food relief is greater than ever, with over 12 million South Africans unsure of where their next meal will come from” according to Standard Bank’s Chief Executive Lungisa Fuzile.
Enter OneFarm Share to bridge the gap and “reliable, trusted channel for farmers and food producers to donate or sell at discounted prices without impacting market prices” says Wendy Pienaar who heads up Standard Bank’s Client Ecosystems. In terms of the platform’s vision for 2021, “OneFarm Share hopes to facilitate the acquisition and distribution of 7,400 tons of fresh produce, which will provide 38 million meals to over 1 million people. The platform is also looking to increase its farmer registry ten-fold, to more than 300 suppliers.”