To assist farmers in rural areas in South Africa, Bayer recently launched seven new DEKALB-branded container shops in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to ensure that smallholder producers can have easy access to input supplies.
Smallholder farmers form the basis of many rural communities in South Africa and according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, these farmers easily produce about 80% of the food available to these communities. As important as this sector is, it still faces many challenges, one of which is easy access to inputs early in the season.
“To Bayer it is important that our products and services are within reach of our customers. We want to create value through innovative products and services, and sustainable development. To have these container shop close to our customers is one way of honouring this pledge and delivering on our social and ethical responsibilities,” said Kobus Steenekamp, commercial lead for Bayer Crop Science in South Africa.
Reuse and recycling ensures sustainability
Reusing shipping containers and turning them into buildings, is a novel way of contributing towards sustainable use of resources. Using these containers prevent the use of bricks, cement and the production of additional steel, of which the production is a major source of CO2. It is said that the reusing of a container could help to save about 3 500kg of steel. Containers are furthermore safe movable and clean structures and acceptable structures for business in the local communities.
Strategically identified entrepreneurs
For 2019 Bayer has sourced seven containers, but if the demand increases, the company will look at deploying more in coming years. Entrepreneurs, mostly woman and young people who will run these container shops, were strategically identified. Some of them were existing independent distributors who run businesses from their garages right in the middle of the farming communities.
The candidates will be invited to join Bayer’s Enterprise and Supplier Development programme to ensure the sustainability of the entrepreneur. “We will ensure continuous training and expose these individuals to our business strategy and innovative products,” according to Steenekamp.
Due to our concern for the safety of our customers as well as the shop owners, we advised that we follow a no-cash transaction policy. Farmers would need to deposit the money in advance and upon purchase, show the proof of payment.
The containers will only sell DEKALB seed at present, but as the business grows the opportunity to offer a wider product portfolio to further assist our farmer customers, will be investigated and evaluated.
“To us, this project is special because we address the needs of our customers. The containers will be easily accessible, within walking distance for our famers. The distributors will not only stock new, high performing hybrids but will also provide training on new technologies and plant demonstration plots.” – Press release, Bayer