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Buhle Academy: empowering South African smallholders

COFCO International South Africa supports farmer capacity building in the grain production province of Mpumalanga, by providing funding to the Buhle Farmers Academy. The organisation, whose mission is to help alleviate poverty and promote food security by empowering farmers to farm sustainably and profitably, delivers training, mentoring and support for smallholders in relation to livestock and agriculture. Farmers learn how to adopt sustainable practices in order to raise yields and profits, while improving their livelihoods.

COFCO and Buhle Academy: empowering South African smallholders

“The students spend 80% of their time engaged in practical learning, driving tractors, testing the soil, and understanding how to prepare for rain and different weather conditions,” says Zamo Shongwi, Executive Director, Buhle Academy. “Most importantly, they learn how to manage markets, and leave with a business plan they can use to start their own farming enterprise.”

Zamo Shongwi, Executive Director, Buhle Academy

With an inclusive approach, the Academy is open to students of all backgrounds, with participants only paying up to 10% of the course fees. The rest is provided by donors and funds raised from the Academy’s own agricultural production. The organisation also has facilities for people with disabilities.

The organisation also has facilities for people with disabilities.

The COFCO International team has sponsored 100 students at the Academy in the past two years, and is able to provide further learning opportunities within its business. “In particular, we can offer students an internship at our soy processing plant,” explains Tania Westmacott, Sustainability Ambassador at COFCO International South Africa. 

Finally, the Academy encourages the sharing of information with farming communities to help extend the learning and promote quality of life beyond participating students. Building on the success of this project, COFCO International plans to create more similar partnerships to further support farmers and enable market access.

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