Over the past years, Mahlathini DF has provided 53 tunnels to the six villages that MDF
works with in the Bergville area and encouraged farmers to plant various vegetables in the
tunnels for their household consumptions and sell surpluses if there are any. Surpluses are
sold from home locally, and in the farmer’s market in Bergville town. Before Covid-19 in
2020, farmers would take their produce (vegetables, meat, eggs, home hand-made
products, etc) to pension points and have a market there where they would sell, the
government then ended local pension points in 2020. The Local municipality allocated an
area for fresh produce market, which was not in close reach for the target market, resulting
in farmers selling fewer produce and having to go back home with some of their produce.
As a result, the LM then allocated another smaller point in town for MDF to hold it markets.
The farmer’s market has been taking place from that point almost every month from 2021
until now.
A workshop to review the market, plan a way forward for the farmer’s market and to
deliver feedback/results from the livelihood surveys conducted earlier in the year was held
on the 14th of September 2023, at the Emmaus Hall with 3-5 farmers from each of the 7
villages that MDF works with and have been part of the farmer’s market, Mr N Dlamini, Erna
Kruger, Michael Malinga and the MDF staff.
The workshop started by looking at markets from the differentsites that MDF works with in
KZN, Centocow and Bhamshela, where in Bhamshela farmers arrange and coordinate their
own markets, make posters of prices for people to easily see the good’s prices, use banners
to stand out and be more recognisable/attract customers, and also have an online market
where they advertise on social media, take orders and deliver where they can, and send
goods to far places.
Figure 1: marketing workshop in Emmaus Hall
Enterprise Development and Livelihoods Survey Results
The results showed that:
-93,1% of people are involved in businesses, such as agricultural enterprises, retailing and
tuckshops, money lending, salons, school children transportation and selling other hand
made products such as grass matts, etc.
- 86,2% of people participate in VSLA so they can start and maintain their businesses, 79.3%
participate so they fulfil they household needs/responsibilities, VSLAs enable 17,2% people
to buy household furniture and appliances, and lastly, 3,4% are in savings groups so they can
pay for children’s education related needs.
- The main/Biggest monthly expenses were identified to be:
- funeral cover- 89.7%
- Gifting each other when there are traditional ceremonies- 82,8%
- financial support when there is death in the area/among relatives- 79,3%
- Children’s school transport and fees- 34,5%
- Money obtained from the Savings is mostly used for monthly household needs(dstv, food,
etc), house construction/renovations, farming expenses (inputs,) and traditional
-The Share out money is mainly used for agricultural businesses (51,7%), other enterprises
(48,3%) and traditional ceremonies (24,1%).
-Other sources of income for farmers (while waiting for fresh produce to ripen/get ready for
selling) are:
- Grant money
- clothing retail
- selling pork
- small spaza shops
-planting and selling vegetables all-year round
- giving stuff on credit and collecting at different times
After selling, farmers use the profits earned for different uses, such as investing back into
the business (buying more farming inputs, feed, materials, etc), banking it, household needs
(mostly food) and buying shares in savings groups.
Farmers’ overview of the results was that, they are now moving away from hunger, towards
being self-sustainability.
- A one-on-one sessions are to be planned to learn more about enterprises that are
profitable, their expenses and benefits, challenges that people may come across when
pursuing those kind of businesses and proposed suggestions/solutions, information and
knowledge sharing regarding businesses.
Of the 29 farmers present in the workshop, 23 are selling from home, 09 have been a part
of the farmer’s market in town, 07 used to sell at pension points and only two have supplied
stores with their produce. It came out that selling at the farmer’s market, home market, a
combination of both FM and HM and selling at the local hospital and schools works for
farmers, with the farmer’s market taking the lead.
Farmer’s also have ideas/plans on how they are going to expand their businesses, such as
buying fence and expanding vegetable garden (Buyisiwe Ndaba from Vimbukhalo), fence a
currently unused area and use it to plant a new crop, potatoes (Buyisiwe Sthebe,
Madakaneni), planting a variety of crops to accommodate different peoples’ needs in the
market and create diversity (Sthabiso Manyathi, Qeleni), Buying a sewing machine, starting
a poultry business ( Bongani Phakathi, Ezinyonyana), opening a food outlet in Bergville town
and using own vegetables from the garden and chicken (broilers) in the food preparation.
Figure 2: farmers’ Challenges and suggestions group discussions
Farmer’s Market Challenges
oBringing common produce- very little/no diversity
oDifferent scales/measurements of the same produce with same prices
oaccess to irrigation water, especially in winter, leading to fewer people bringing/
participating in the market.
oNetwork problems during grant pay days, resulting in people not getting their grant
money on the day of the market, therefore less people have money to buy.
oDifferent scales/measurements of the same produce with same prices
And also having different prices for the same commodity of the same size, and Price
reductions later in the day to promote sales.
oSupplying stores like Boxer, reduce the prices of the produce far more than the
market itself (when it is getting late)
oHeat damage the fresh produce and deteriorate its quality, farmers must then
reduce prices.
oAbsenteeism- farmers always sending the produce and never coming, same few
farmers come every month, there is no rotation. Also sending produce with no
packets (nor money to but them) to put it in when a customer buys, and sending
produce that is not measured (spinach and other items that need to be scaled).
oProduce being too little.
oLack of hygiene- bringing produce that is not clean.
oIssues of Sales Money shortages
oInsufficiency of materials such as tables for putting on produce
oArriving late and start selling late, which leads to selling less.
oHaving a market only once a month.
Figure 3: plans, coordinating according to villages
Suggested solutions to the above challenges
oFarmers need to plan and communicate before the day of the market who brings
what to avoid having no diversity.
oAgree on the same scales for produce that is to have the same price, use a rope or
tape measure to scale, and have different prices for different ranges/sizes of
oHaving tower gardens, so that farmers will use grey water for irrigation, to partly
address the water access issue.
oHave a market on a couple of consecutive days and consider having a market in
Winterton as well during pension/grant payment days.
oCoordinate before and put on tags before getting to the market and choose one
person to handle/keep the sales money to avoid shortages.
ofarmers should support each other, promote unity, sell as one at the market and
avoid promoting one’s produce only.
oFarmers should take produce and walk around town for produce to sell faster and
improve sales to avoid having to reduce prices later in the day and produce staying
too long in the heat.
oProduce must be clean and always packaged nicely, spinaches washed and tied
nicely with strings, produce with dark spots and holes should not be taken to the
market as such would create an unpleasant image to customers about the quality of
the markets’ produce and hygiene.
o Farmers must be punctual, and start the market early in the morning, to address the
problem of starting late and going back home with produce as a result of having less
time to sell.
oFarmers should buy or bring their own extra tables, to accommodate more produce.
oDisplay banners to attract customers
Coordinating and market committee
To discuss how the farmers are going to coordinate the market, what they think about
having a market committee and representatives from different areas, how they will
maintain consistency and diversity in the market, produce pick-up points, etc, farmers were
then grouped according to their area/villages. Stulwane, Majwetha and Madakaneni groups
were not part of these discussions. Farmers will go back to their village and have meetings
with all those that are part of the meeting and were not attending the workshop, to discuss
the market committees and elect their representatives.
-Farmers will communicate from planting; they will plant the common products at
different times (have a two/three weeks gap) so as to have it ready at different
-Ezibomvini Produce will be collected at Phumelele Hlongwane’s HH and Frybin
Dlalisa’s gate by the road.
-Ezibomvini group will leave produce that is not clean/not washed.
-Farmers will take turns going to the market to involve everyone
-Have a planning meeting before going to the market to discuss who has what and
who bring what
-Farmers will plant (indivisually) at different intervals, not at once, to ensurethey
always have produce and not have to wait long to sell.
-Those who are going to represent the village in the market, will check if all produce
brought is clean to be taken to the market.
-Pick up points for produce will be at Sthabiso Manyathi’s and Simephi Hlatshwayo’s
-Pick up point is Sibongile Mpulo’s HH or Buyisiwe Ndaba’s.
-Farmers will meet up the day before the market, put on tags on produce that does
not get spoiled quick.
In conclusion, water appears to be a bigger problem for farmers, and contributes as a
reason why farmers do not all participate in the market.